Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó visited Washington, DC between July 17-18, 2019 to attend the 2nd Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom (MARF) conference at the State Department. On the margins of the MARF conference, he held bilateral meetings with several Foreign Ministers and stakeholders. Among them, Lord Ahmad, Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion of UK, Abul Kalam Abdul Momen, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh, Mubariz Ghahraman oghlu Gurbanli, Minister, Chairman of the State Committee on Religious Associations of Azerbaijan; and Nadia Murad Basee Taha, an Iraqi Yazidi human rights activist, who was kidnapped from her hometown Kocho in 2014 and held by the Islamic State for three months; Péter Szijjártó also signed a bilateral cooperation agreement about infrastructural projects with the Foreign Minister of Montenegro Srdjan Darmanovic.
The Embassy of Hungary organized a Workshop on Christian Persecution, an official side event of the MARF conference, at the Capitol Hill Club. FM Szijjártó showcased Hungary’s work in the field of assisting persecuted Christians and other minorities in his keynote speech, while Michal Wos, Cabinet Minister with Humanitarian Aid portfolio of the Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland talked about Polish efforts. Panelists included Tristan Azbej, State Secretary of the Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister of Hungary in charge of the Aid of Persecuted Christians; Max Primorac, Special Representative of USAID; Nina Shea, Director of the Hudson Institute; Tom Farr, President of the Religious Freedom Institute; and Toufic Baaklini, President of the In Defense of Christians (IDC). Pastor Andrew Brunson; Pari Ibrahim, Founder-Managing Director of the Free Yezidi Foundation; Father Ramzi Sidawi, Custody of Holy Land; Dede Laugesen, Executive Director of the Save the Persecuted Christians, as well as Patience Patrik and Nawar Faris Bayya, Christian Fellows from Nigeria and Iraq have also participated in the discussion. The workshop was moderated by Gábor Márki, CEO of Hungary Helps program.
Péter Szijjártó also met Ministers, Special Representatives and Ambassadors of like-minded countries (Poland, Italy, and the United Kingdom), at a Working Breakfast at the Residence of the Hungarian Ambassador to discuss ways of cooperation to aid and support persecuted Christians in the Middle East and Africa. The meeting was attended by Mr. Riley Barnes, Chief Advisor to Sam Brownback, Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom; and USAID Deputy Administrator Ms. Bonnie Glick.
The Foreign Minister discussed bilateral trade relations with Secretary Wilbur Ross at the DoC. He also met Acting Deputy Secretary David P. Pekoske at the DHS. Péter Szijjártó held talks at the State Department with Acting Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Reeker; Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Tibor Nagy, as well as USAID Administrator Mark Green at USAID.
FM Szijjártó also participated in the panel discussion titled ’Building a Transatlantic Agenda to Secure the Next Century’ at the Atlantic Council, along with Polish Foreign Minister Jaczek Czaputowicz and Czech Deputy Foreign Minister Ales Chmelar. The Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade had high-level meetings with representatives of the American business sector and gave interviews to the Financial Times, Voice of America (VOA), The Hill TV and the Atlantic Council.