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Hungary’s foreign minister has warned that the hope for peace in Ukraine would be given up if communication channels are not kept open.

Péter Szijjártó talked by phone with Syarhey Aleynik, his new Belarussian counterpart, and they agreed on the importance of keeping communication channels open, as blocking them would mean “giving up hope for peace”. Posting on Facebook on Wednesday, Szijjártó said he had told Aleynik that the war in Ukraine “is causing [Hungary] much damage as a neighbouring country in terms of economic and energy problems.” The minister told his counterpart that any decisions or measures that risked prolonging or escalating the war was “against our national interests”, and peace should be secured as quickly as possible. Cooperation in economic areas not affected by sanctions, mainly in pharmaceuticals, medical devices and agriculture, will continue, Szijjártó said. The minister also asked Aleynik to intervene to lift a blockade of Hungarian truck drivers stranded on Belarus’s western border. Meanwhile, Szijjártó said the death in November of Vladimir Makei, Aleynik’s predecessor, had “hit them hard”.