Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó pledged increased and extended Hungarian military participation at the international conference against terrorism held in Washington on Wednesday.

Foreign Ministers from the countries involved in the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS and terrorism in general held a meeting in Washington organised by the U.S. government and chaired by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Chief diplomats from 66 countries and representatives from two international organisations are attending the one-day conference.

Hungary is being represented by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó, who in his speech announced: “The Government will be recommending to parliament that it authorises an increase in the number of Hungarian military personnel fighting against the terrorists in Iraq and an extension of Hungary’s military presence”.

In an interview to Hungarian news agency MTI, the Minister summarised the current situation and explained: “What we are seeing is that the greatest global danger to the civilised world is not posed by a state, but by a terrorist organisation, and primarily by the Islamic State terrorist organisation”. According to Mr. Szijjártó, the terrorist organisation is the number on enemy of international peace and stability.

The Hungarian Foreign Minister also felt it important to stress that that international terrorism based on religious extremism also represents the greatest threat to the civilised world at a regional level today.

“This is why we are glad that the new U.S. administration led by Donald Trump has developed a new, comprehensive strategy to defeat terrorism, and is finally not simply saying that we must act against terrorism, but that terrorism must be completely eradicated within the foreseeable future”, he said in the interview, also stressing that this is the approach that the Hungarian Government completely agrees with, especially in view of the fact that in his opinion without the eradication of terrorism based on religious extremism Europe will be unable to handle basic security challenges.

“For instance, in the long term it will also be impossible to handle the immigration crisis without the total eradication of ISIS”, Mr. Szijjártó declared. He also told the press that the Hungarian Government is glad that the new American strategy is not only aimed at the Islamic State, but against all other terrorist organisations that are based on religious extremism. “We welcome the fact that in addition to military action this strategy also involves destroying the financing systems used by terrorism, hindering the recruitment of terrorist and the reduction of terrorist propaganda”, he emphasised.

Global Coalition to Counter ISIS has achieved several successes during the course of the past two years: the terrorist organisation’s fighters have been reduced bene reduced by one third from some 33 thousand to around 18-20 thousand, and a total of almost 19 thousand air strikes have been performed against Islamic State targets. Assessing the successes achieved so far, Mr. Szijjártó highlighted the fact that these successful missions have also closed the majority of the terrorist organisation’s supply routes, in addition to which the terrorist have lost 61 percent of the territory they had previously occupied in Iraq and 30 percent of their previous gains in Syria. The Minister said he thought there was a realistic chance of coalition forces freeing the Iraqi city of Mosul and the Syrian city of Raqqa from the terrorists before the end of this year.

“Hungary has been a member of the coalition against terrorism from the very beginning, and we have won recognition through our role as one of the 27 countries that are sending troops into battle against ISIS”, Mr. Szijjártó stressed. He declares that Hungary is participating in the fight against terrorism fundamentally because “the barbaric terrorism represented by the Islamic State and the propaganda it issues calling on people to commit acts of terrorism represents a direct danger to the Security of Europe, and within it Hungary, because the terrorist organisation is one of the causes of migration pressure on Europe, and because the Islamic State is striving to destroy Christian communities in other parts of the world”.

The Minister confirmed to MTI the initiative that he had announced at the conference: The Government will be recommending to parliament that it authorises an increase in the number of Hungarian military personnel fighting against the terrorists in Iraq and send 200 soldiers to Iraq instead of the current 150, and an extension of Hungary’s military presence in Iraq, which is due to expire at the end of 2017, to the end of 2019.

The decision required a two-thirds majority vote in Parliament, but the Foreign Ministry is confident that it will receive the required support. “Particularly in view of the fact that this will mean Hungary “will contribute to a greater extent to establishing a safer world and will at the same time be fulfilling its responsibilities as a country that embraces western values”, Mr. Szijjártó stressed.

(MTI / Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade)