Budapest, May 23 (MTI) – Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó told public television on Tuesday that diplomatic staff were still trying to establish whether any Hungarians were affected by the explosion at the Manchester Arena the previous evening.
Szijjártó also said the Hungarian government strongly condemned the attack and it expressed its condolences to the families of the victims of the blast and wished the injured a speedy recovery.
By early Tuesday morning, 22 people were reported dead in the blast at the Manchester Arena and 59 were reported injured in what British police suspect was a suicide bombing.
The minister said Europe’s top priority now was to establish security, adding that “all measures should serve this purpose”.
He said Europe had taken a “huge security risk” by having let in around 1.5 million people “with unidentified backgrounds and unclear motives” over the past two years.
“Looking at the number of terrorist attacks that have been carried out since 2015, it is not unfair to say that one of the consequences of illegal migration has been an unprecedented rise in the threat of terrorism,” Szijjártó added.
Speaking at a press conference in the afternoon, the foreign minister said Monday’s attack was the most heinous terrorist act for it had targeted a venue filled with a lot of children. Hungarian authorities contacted local British police who said that the identification of the victims was still ongoing. They said they had no information as yet whether there had been any Hungarians among them, Szijjártó said.
Europe has never had to face a terrorist attack as grave as this most recent one in previous decades, the foreign minister said. It must therefore be the objective of policies in Europe to restore the security of Europe and its people, he said.
This is the duty of politicians, he said, adding that the security risks must not be underestimated by anyone.
Government to discuss impact of Manchester attack on Wednesday
Hungarian secret service personnel were briefed on the attack by their British counterparts prior to the committee’s meeting, Janos Lazar said.
Zsolt Molnár of opposition Socialist party, head of the committee, said that the Manchester attack highlights the need for an international counter-terrorism centre. He called on the government to initiate setting up such a facility.
“Hungary is a transit country where terrorism is concerned. We cannot sit idly by while terrorists ravage the continent”, Molnár said.
Ádám Mirkóczki of opposition Jobbik stressed the need to increase spending on modernising the technology and training the staff of national security organisations.
Szilárd Németh of ruling Fidesz said that the 2018 budget allocates 514 billion forints (EUR 1.6bn) to national security, 25 percent more than in 2017. The main areas supported will be border control, counter-terrorism and public safety, he said.
Photo: MTI/AP/PA/Peter Byrne