Hungary is drawing up plans to upgrade diplomatic relations with Syria, the Financial Times reported, quoting diplomats in Brussels and Beirut.
The diplomats said Budapest has for months been working on a proposal to send a chargé d’affaires back to Syria, which would be a precursor to eventually reopening its closed embassy.
While a few European capitals kept up diplomatic ties during the seven-year conflict, this would be the first time an EU member state has moved towards reopening a shuttered embassy in Syria.
Many EU members strongly oppose normalizing relations with Damascus by dispatching envoys to Syria. One European diplomat in Beirut called Hungary’s proposed move “very annoying”.
“Ultimately it is for individual countries to decide their representation,” said an official from an EU country that has sought to maintain a tough line. “But we do not think the climate is right.”
The Hungarian foreign affairs ministry and a government spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment, according to FT. Administration representatives in Brussels referred questions to Budapest.
Hungary’s far-right prime minister Viktor Orban has met senior representatives from Syria’s various Christian communities.
According to European diplomats, Hungary insists that it is motivated to strengthen its presence in Damascus as part of its aid efforts, although it is a minor contributor to the multibillion-dollar humanitarian effort in Syria and mainly funnels support towards Christian communities.