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Cooperation between Hungary and Algeria is key, as the two countries hold similar positions on illegal migration and the war in Ukraine, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said after meeting his Algerian counterpart on Friday. Hungary and Algeria are both freedom-loving countries that reject attempts at outside interference, the foreign ministry cited Szijjártó as saying at a joint press conference with Ahmed Attaf in Budapest. The two countries also see eye to eye when it comes to their serious security challenges, Szijjártó said.
The European Union is facing some of its most severe economic and security challenges of all time, with the latter being related to the rising threat of terrorism in Africa, he said. Former French colonies in Africa have seen eight coups in three years, which destabilise the region and result in a rise in migration pressure on the European continent, the minister said.
Hungary faces security threats from two different directions, namely the war in Ukraine from the east and illegal migration from the south, Szijjártó said. “That’s why cooperation between Hungary and Algeria is important to us, because we are on the same side and hold similar positions when it comes to both issues,” he said. Migration flows towards Europe need to be stopped as quickly as possible, new armed conflicts in Africa must be prevented and the countries in the region must be given the help they need to preserve their stability and develop their economies, the minister said. In other words, it is the root causes of migration that need to be addressed, Szijjártó said, adding that instead of encouraging people to come to Europe and “supporting the business model of people smuggling rings”, Africa should be helped in achieving stability and peace and eliminating the causes of migration. “This is especially true for the Sahel region … if stability can’t be restored here, then Europe will face more migration waves, and in the current situation the continent won’t be able to manage two simultaneous security challenges,” Szijjártó warned.
Turning to the situation in Ukraine, the minister said both Algeria and Hungary were part of the “global pro-peace majority”, stressing that only a diplomatic settlement could save lives. “And the conditions for achieving peace are better today than they will be tomorrow,” Szijjártó said. He also expressed concern over reports of potential deliveries of weapons to Ukraine that pose danger and health hazards, calling on the international community to refrain from steps that would lead to an increase in the number of such weapons in the region.
“We welcome that Algeria is also committed to dialogue and trust that as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, it will be able to contribute significantly to a peaceful settlement to the war through diplomacy over the next two years,” Szijjártó said. Meanwhile, he said 100 Algerian university students are awarded scholarships to study in Hungary each year, adding that the roughly 900 applications submitted this year reflected the strong interest in the scheme.
In response to a question, Szijjártó said the precondition for Hungary importing natural gas from Algeria would be the construction of an interconnector with Slovenia, on which an agreement has recently been finalised and could be signed next month. Once the interconnector is built, Hungary will be able to negotiate on the further conditions such as price, he said. The sides have therefore agreed that Hungarian and Algerian companies will begin exchanging information to determine whether there is a possibility for them to establish trade relations, he added.
On another subject, Szijjártó said it was “indisputable” that there had been “American meddling” in last year’s general election in Hungary. The aim, he said, had been to secure a victory for the opposition and bring Hungary “to the pro-war side” and get it to participate in weapons deliveries. The voters, however, made it clear that investment in the Hungarian elections “is one of the worst investments possible”, because the money was pumped into the Hungarian opposition, “which, thank God, failed miserably”, he said. Szijjártó said this interference was still ongoing, insisting that a significant number of media outlets were “pushing propaganda” against the government’s pro-peace politics using foreign, including American, resources.