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Hungary and the Vatican are on an equal footing as regards the issue of war and peace, Péter Szijjártó, the foreign minister, said after meeting the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States in Vatican City on Friday, noting that both countries supported making peace in Ukraine as soon as possible. According to a statement from the foreign ministry, Szijjarto’s talks with Archbishop Richard Gallagher focused primarily on the war in Ukraine. “We were in agreement that making peace these days requires enormous courage … as those who want peace and work for it along with pro-peace politicians are under enormous pressure,” the ministry quoted Szijjarto as saying. Those who are exerting pressure “have a legal, psychical and a political tool-kit”, he said. “The legal tool is being used against Donald Trump on the other side of the Atlantic. The psychical one was unfortunately manifested in the attempt on the life of Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico,” Szijjártó said. “The political one is sought to be applied against us in the form of proposals aimed at revoking our voting rights in the EU just to prevent that we could continue to block the spread of the war.” He said that the war in Ukraine would “only have losers, no winners” and it was hard to predict “how many” because “a threat of escalation is growing by the day”.
The minister criticised a recent decision allowing the Ukrainian army to attack targets in Russia with weapons supplied by the United States and Germany and also criticised a statement on sending French training officers to Ukraine, arguing that those could increase the threat of a world war. “The Vatican’s foreign minister and I agreed that we need to mobilise the resources of diplomacy,” Szijjártó said, highlighting the need for starting and maintaining dialogue on peace. He said they spoke about the upcoming peace conference on Ukraine in Switzerland which will be attended by both Hungary and the Vatican. “But we have a kind of sense of absence, regretting that not all warring sides will be present,” he added.
Meanwhile, Szijjártó underscored the importance of strengthening bilateral relations, saying that “we need the closest possible allies who are ready to take action in the interest of peace.” On another topic, Szijjártó pointed out the Hungarian government’s aim to continue to develop relations with the historical churches also to the benefit of the Hungarian people.
“The fact that the number of students studying in church-run schools has gone up to 184,000 from 74,000 since we took power in 2010 reflects a rather positive opinion by Hungarian families and parents on our church and education policy,” he said. Szijjártó said that they also discussed the issue of persecuted Christians, noting the government’s continued consultations with the Vatican on the matter. He also noted the launch of 367 programmes under a government scheme that was aimed at improving the situation of persecuted Christians in 64 countries.