Protecting the external borders is Europe’s most pressing task, Péter Szijjártó, the foreign minister, said on Tuesday.
Szijjártó, who is in Kuwait to attend the foreign ministerial conference of the global coalition to defeat the Islamic State (IS) terrorist organisation, told MTI by phone that the meeting evaluated the results so far and discussed further steps.
He noted that thanks to the coalition’s military successes, IS had lost 98 percent of its previously occupied territories. “This is good news, but it has brought new challenges,” he said.
IS has changed its tactics by attempting to invade new territories in order to launch attacks, while IS is sending many of the 5,000 returning foreign fighters — 3,000 of them EU citizens — back to Europe to carry out terrorist acts.
Szijjártó said IS, in its current form, presents a new security threat to Europe, and the new migration wave could “open the gateway” to these terrorists.
“This is why it is now more important than ever to defend the EU’s external borders.”
The minister also addressed the issue of helping Christian communities returning to their homes. Unless they return, IS or another terrorist organisation could re-occupy these areas and launch new attacks, he insisted.
Szijjártó said Hungary is in the midst of increasing the number of military personnel in Erbil, Iraq, from 150 to 200, and the new contingent would be in place by the end of February. In addition to its guard duties, Hungarian soldiers are carrying out military training not only in the Kurdish region but in Iraq as a whole, he added.
Hungary is doing everything it can to ensure that people who have been displaced from their homes can return safely, he said.
The country is providing half a billion forints through the Ecumenical Aid Organisation to support the repatriation of refugees who fled from Iraq, as well as spending 580 million forints to renovate and resettle damaged houses in Iraq. It is also providing 145 million forints to buy medicines for Iraqi hospitals. Fully 620 million forints is being allocated to support Syrian Christian churches in their efforts to support Christians made destitute due to the war, the minister noted.
featured image: MTI