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Bassil, Szijjarto discuss activation of cooperation, Hungary’s readiness to help Lebanon

Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil on Wednesday held talks with Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto with whom he reportedly discussed the prospects of activating cooperation between the two countries.

The two counterparts held a joint press conference during which Minister Bassil explained that the main objective of the Hungarian FM's visit was the donation made by Hungary in the context of its aid program for Lebanon and for Eastern Christians, in addition to helping restore 33 churches.

Stressing the importance of preserving Lebanon's message and role, Bassil asserted that such aid would preserve the history of Christians in the region and encourages them to stay there and link their past to their presence and future.

"We discussed cooperation means in order to consolidate the idea of the return of the displaced to their countries. The minister is convinced, like we are, that the money spent on keeping the displaced in the host countries must be spent in favor of their return," he explained.

Referring to the flow of migrants to Europe and their perils on this region of the world, Bassil expected new waves of migration towards Europe.

"I would like to remind you that Daesh, Al-Nusra, al-Qaeda and all the terrorist movements have not been eradicated. They are still present in Syria and dominate over parts of the land, and they enjoy the protection of regimes and countries that prevent their annihilation and are able to reignite the aggressions in Syria and in other places in the world," he warned.

According to him, the solution lies in the elimination of terrorism and in an effective action to ensure the return of the displaced.

Bassil said he had discussed with his Hungarian counterpart several common issues, including the advanced scholarships to 50 students, including 37 Lebanese in 2019.

For his part, the Hungarian Minister expressed the respect of his country to Lebanon, its government and Minister Bassil in his personal capacity.

"Representing a Christian country dating back more than a thousand years, this places Hungary in a position of responsibility to assist the Christian community instead of encouraging it to leave the country," he said.

"We realize that the Christian communities in the Middle East are struggling. We seek to encourage these Christians to stay in Lebanon where they have been living for hundreds of years, and to support them financially. We are working to strengthen these Christian communities in the Middle East, including Lebanon," he added.

He announced in this context that Hungary is preparing to launch the second stage of the restoration project of several churches.

Pertaining to the crisis of displaced Syrians, he said his country was working with Lebanon to accelerate their return.

According to the FM, the international community is called upon to provide all the security, material and financial guarantees to secure the return of the displaced and avoid their retention for long periods in the host countries.

The Hungarian minister also announced that his country will dispatch 54 soldiers to participate in the UNIFIL force, noting that Hungary sought to contribute to the stability of Lebanon.

"We are ready to help Lebanon internationally, and to work together to change the international community's approach to migrants and the displaced so as to secure their repatriation," Szijjarto said.

Source: National News Agency