President Katalin Novák said on Facebook on Friday that she had discussed the importance of peace with outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid in Tel-Aviv.
“I met with outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid in Tel Aviv. We could exchange a few words in Hungarian as well, as he is of Hungarian origin on both his mother’s and father’s side. We talked about defence industrial cooperation and also about how important it is for us Hungarians to preserve peace in our country,” she said in an English-language post.
“For us Christians, Israel is the Holy Land, the Promised Land,” Novák said. “In Jerusalem, I met with the leaders of local Christian churches as well,” she added. “Few people know that Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world today,” she said. Hungary’s efforts to help persecuted Christians are recognised all over the world, she added, and expressed thanks for the opportunity to discuss the difficulties and ways to cope with them.
Recent events are proof that all international alliances must now focus on strengthening defence capabilities, Defence Minister Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky said on Thursday. After Szalay-Bobrovniczky held talks with Israeli counterpart Benny Gantz in Jerusalem, he said that an effective and systemic defence force must be developed, the ministry said. The Hungarian government launched its multi-year defence force development project in 2017, he noted. Thanks to acquisitions and defence industry developments, Hungary can fulfil its international obligations at a high level in addition to being able to protect the country and the Hungarian people, he added.
Hungarian-Israeli relations work based on historical experiences, common values and interests, he said. The two countries have maintained “close and excellent relations” for a long time, including in defence, he added. Under the arrangements of the Hungarian armed forces development scheme, “considerable Israeli ties have been established” in the defence industry which has gained new impetus and is now considered “a new cylinder in the engine of the Hungarian economy”, he said.
Parts of a new radar system are expected to arrive from 2023, and Hungarian-made components will be incorporated from 2025, he added. The ministers also discussed the Ukraine war, the ministry said. Szalay-Bobrovniczky said the position of the Hungarian government was unchanged from the start, insisting that a ceasefire and the immediate start of peace talks were the only solution to the war and the resulting energy crisis in Europe. He added that Israel, too, was helping Ukraine in various ways but was not supplying any lethal weapons.