Lebanon plays a key role in Hungary’s foreign policy, as the country is crucial to the stability of the Middle East, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said after talks with his Lebanese counterpart on Wednesday.
Lebanon protects Christian communities and helps those fleeing crisis-hit areas in the Middle East stay as close to their home countries as possible so that they can return there once the crises are resolved, Szijjarto told a press conference.
Hungary has requested the European Union to increase a previously approved 400 million euro aid package for Lebanon to 800 million euros so that the country can uphold its stability, the minister said. In addition, Hungary has allocated 1.5 million euros to rebuild damaged Christian churches in Lebanon, he said. In the first phase, refurbishment work on 18 churches is set to begin in November, he said, noting that the project is being coordinated jointly by Budapest’s Pazmany Peter Catholic University and a Lebanese Christian university.
Szijjarto said Lebanon had proven that the only effective way to manage illegal migration is to help people stay as close to their homelands as possible while they wait out the resolution of the crises they fled so that they can return home as quickly as possible.
Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil told the same press conference that the two countries were on the right track to strengthening their bilateral economic ties. Hungary and Lebanon are in full agreement on important issues that dominate international disputes, including the protection of minorities and diversity in the Middle East, he said. Bassil appreciated Hungary’s recognition of his country’s efforts and said that the rest of the international community should acknowledge them too.
Later that day, Gebran Bassil discussed efforts for the stability of the Middle East with Prime Minister Viktor Orban in the parliament.