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The Hungarian government believes that crises should be addressed by providing assistance locally rather than through the imposition of sanctions, Tristan Azbej, state secretary in charge of assistance to persecuted Christians and the Hungary Helps Programme, said in Brussels on Monday.
Azbej attended an international conference on international cultural heritage protection as the head of the Hungary Helps delegation and held talks with Olivér Várhelyi, the European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement. Azbej told MTI that both meetings had made it clear that the Hungarian government was prepared to cooperate with the European Union on showing solidarity outside the bloc, be it in the form of humanitarian support, development cooperation or cultural heritage protection. The Hungarian government has recognised that heritage protection needs to be made an integral part of aid and development policies applied in crisis zones, Azbej said, underscoring its importance in the case of persecuted Christian communities. He said the conference’s participants had reviewed developments in cultural heritage protection over the past year.
Participants included EU ambassadors, representatives of French cultural heritage foundation Aliph, UNESCO and European commissioners’ offices, he said. They concluded that last year’s meeting initiated by Hungary has had a significant impact on the EU’s contributions to cultural heritage protection, he added. EU institutions and member states should follow Hungary’s example and form direct partnerships with churches, he said. Not only should “old”, large member states be involved in EU international aid programmes, but the international development agencies of new member states should also play an active role, he added. Commenting on his talks with Várhelyi, Azbej said it was clear that the EU’s neighborhood policy and the Hungary Helps Programme had many commonalities, both of them aiming to stabilise Lebanon and maintain stability in the Western Balkans, for instance. Hungary Helps is also about providing aid to groups subject to religious persecution, he said, noting initiatives in many African and Middle Eastern countries where Christians were subjected to atrocities. He accused western liberal politicians of refusing to see a connection between the persecution of Christians and their religion. “It’s factually clear that Christianity is the world’s most persecuted religion … with more than 300 million people discriminated against or subjected to mass violence because of their faith,” he said. Wokism trivialises atrocities linked to religion for political ideological reasons, he added.