Lebanon key to Europe’s security, survival of Christian communities in Middle East, says Hungarian foreign minister
Lebanon plays a key role in the security of Europe and the survival of Christian communities in the Middle East, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said on Friday.
Szijjártó held talks with counterpart Gebran Bassil, Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri, Economy Minister Raed Khoury and senior representatives of Lebanon’s economic life.
The minister told MTI over the phone that more than a quarter of the inhabitants of Lebanon are refugees, mostly from Syria. If Lebanon loses its stability or cannot cater for the refugees, the latter will set off for Europe and the arrival of around 2 million new migrants would obviously pose an unsolvable task for the European Union, he added.
It is therefore a basic interest for Europe to maintain Lebanon’s stability, which is why Hungary would propose doubling the 400 million euros allocated for Lebanon basically for refugee services under an agreement with the EU in order to help economic development. Economic growth dropped from a two-digit figure to 1 percent last year as a result of the costs of caring for the two million refugees, he said.
Szijjártó said Lebanon also played a crucial role in the preservation of Christian communities, with Christians representing 35-40 percent of the population. The Hungarian government has decided to support the Lebanese government in a scheme to revamp Christian churches by providing 1.5 million euros for the reconstruction of 32 churches, he said.
Szijjártó added that Hungary participates in the UN Lebanon mission with a five-member contingent providing mapping services. Hungary insists that the funds earmarked for the mission should not be cut, as a move like that would undermine Lebanon’s stability and endanger security and stability in the Middle East as a whole.