By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – Hungary and Israel have unveiled a statue of Árpád Weisz, the Hungarian- born soccer player who coached Inter Milan and Bologna before perishing in the Holocaust, or Shoah.
The ceremony came as Israel’s foreign minister said Hungary agreed to move its embassy to Jerusalem as the first European Union member state, though Hungarian officials claimed “no decision” had been made.
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and Hungarian Prime Minister Office Chief Gergely Gulyás showed the Árpád Weisz bronze statue in Budapest. Sándor Csányi, the head of the Hungarian Football Association (MLSZ), and Giuseppe Saputo, chairman of the Bologna football club, also participated in the ceremony.
Cohen noted that Weisz was “a legendary coach” whose legacy inspired coaches and players to date. “We must learn from the past and do all in our powers to prevent such destruction from ever happening again,” he said, standing near the statue.
The foreign minister said the statue, the first erected for Weisz, “also serves as a memento for Weisz, his family, and the six million Jews who were murdered in Nazi death camps.”
Gulyás agreed, saying Weisz left behind memories of unparalleled achievements, and his fate is an “eternal warning” over the horrors of the Holocaust.
He also indirectly referred to the 600,000 Hungarian Jews killed in that period by German Nazis and Hungarian fascists.
Cohen told reporters at the Chabad synagogue in Budapest “that in a number of weeks, Hungary will be the first EU state to announce that it is moving its embassy to Jerusalem.”
Yet Hungarian Ambassador to Israel Levente Benkö cautioned that while “Hungary has been operating a trade office in Jerusalem since 2019,” there “has been no decision on further steps so far.”
The EU has pressured Hungary not to move its embassy to Jerusalem, which is also claimed by Palestinians as their capital, Worthy News learned.
The United States was the first to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Israel’s capital, Jerusalem, in 2018, followed by Guatemala, Honduras, and Kosovo.
Paraguay’s newly elected president also said he plans to move his country’s embassy back to Jerusalem when he enters office in August after its closure led to a diplomatic row.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called President-elect Santiago Pena to congratulate him on his victory and praised his plan to move the embassy.
Back in Budapest, Hungary’s government also supported “Israel’s right to defend itself.”
Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó agreed to petition the International Court of Justice against the Palestinian Authority’s “pay for slay” practice of paying terrorists who attack Israelis. “Hungary has stood with Israel for years,” Cohen told Israeli media.
“Strengthening the pro-Israel front, together with additional Central European states, is an important diplomatic and economic interest of Israel.”
Szijjártó clarified he was concerned about massive rocket attacks and other violence directed against Israel and said the Jewish state had the right to regent itself. “We condemn all the terrorist threats and attacks that Israel has faced recently,” Szijjártó said.
“And we equally condemn the practice in international political organizations that involves the adoption of one-sided, biased statements of condemnation against Israel based on an unfair approach,” the minister explained
He condemned the “anti-Israel political stance,” which he said was in many cases also present in Western Europe, including the EU.
“That is why we have had to veto several joint European statements in the recent period, which were clearly biased, dishonest, unbalanced, and unfair towards Israel,” Szijjártó added. He vowed that Hungary would continue to push for a “fair and balanced approach towards Israel in the United Nations.”
The Hungarian and Israeli ministers also spoke about energy cooperation as the ongoing war in Ukraine impacted Russian natural gas and oil supplies to the West.
Hungary, which heavily depends on Russian supplies, is trying to diversify. “Political and economic relations between Hungary and Israel are stronger than ever,” Szijjártó said in Budapest on Wednesday.
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