Hungary to appoint Syria diplomat in thawing of ties

Hungary has often been at loggerheads with other EU members and the EU itself. (File/AFP)
Updated 11 September 2019

Hungary to appoint Syria diplomat in thawing of ties

  • The ministry said Budapest provides humanitarian aid for Christians in the Middle East, including in Syria
  • A “considerable number” of Syrian students study in Hungary on scholarships

BUDAPEST: Hungary is planning to appoint a diplomat to carry out “consular duties” in Damascus next year, the first time an EU member state is to upgrade its diplomatic presence in Syria since the start of the war.
“Starting next year, Hungary will delegate a diplomat who will occasionally visit Syria to make follow ups on humanitarian support and to conduct consular duties,” Hungary’s foreign ministry said in a statement to AFP on Wednesday.
The ministry said Budapest provides humanitarian aid for Christians in the Middle East, including in Syria, while a “considerable number” of Syrian students study in Hungary on scholarships.
Only the Czech Republic still has an embassy in Damascus, while other EU countries, the US and Canada are among those which have closed their missions, breaking off relations with the regime of President Bashar Assad.
Romania technically still has an embassy in Syria, but the ambassador is based in Beirut. Bulgaria has a charge d’affaires.
EU countries have in the past sent envoys to Syria, but not for consular purposes, with their duties limited to talks on aid and policy.
Syria’s conflict flared in 2011 with anti-government demonstrations that sparked a brutal regime crackdown. Since then, 370,000 people have been killed and millions displaced.
A source close to the Hungarian government told AFP that Budapest was considering engaging Assad to better help Christians, as well as “be ahead of” other EU countries possibly re-opening ties for economic opportunities.
“Many people in (the ruling party) Fidesz and in the government think that the question of engaging Assad is not a question of if, but when it is going to happen,” he said.
Led by nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Hungary has often been at loggerheads with other EU members and the EU itself on what Orban calls its pro-immigration stance and other issues.


Restoration begins of more King Ramses II statues at Luxor Temple

Updated 1 min 41 sec ago

Restoration begins of more King Ramses II statues at Luxor Temple

  • The remains and blocks of these statues were discovered between 1958 and 1961 during the excavations of the archaeologist Dr. Mohamed Abdel-Kader.

CAIRO: Egypt has begun a new international project in Luxor with the collection, restoration and reinstallation of two statues of King Ramses II.

The plan follows the restoration and assembly during the past three years of three statues of the ruler at Luxor Temple.

During his recent visit to Luxor, Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Khaled Al-Anani gave the green light for the restoration of two more statues of the pharaonic king at the western side of the temple.

Ahmed Arabi, managing director of the temple, said the statues belong to the 19th Dynasty and are made from red granite.

The remains and blocks of these statues were discovered between 1958 and 1961 during the excavations of the archaeologist Dr. Mohamed Abdel-Kader.

The statues, which fell apart years ago, have raised controversy after their restoration. This arises from the fact that one of the recently restored statues stands in the Osirian position, the “death position” of the ancient Egyptians, in which the statue’s feet are equal. That runs contrary to the tradition followed in all Egyptian temples, which is not to put the statues of kings in this position.

Director of the temple Ahmed Arabi said that his department had presented the idea of restoring the three statues. “We recently found pieces of the two other statues of Ramses II in the western facade of the temple. They will also be installed in the same place where they were found.” 

Arabi said that the statues will be renovated in cooperation with the Egyptian archaeological mission led by Dr. Mustafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, under the supervision of Ahmed Badr El-Din, of Luxor Temple, and the Chicago Institute of Oriental Archaeology headed by Dr. Ray Johnson. Work has already begun by studying the two statues, assembling their blocks, and documenting and photographing them. Each statue is seven meters high, again in the Osirian position.

Dr. Waziri confirmed that the two new statues have been placed next to the other statues in preparation for restoration, pointing out that there is writing on one of the pieces bearing the name Ramses II. The pieces include the upper half of a statue, two parts from the shoulders overlapping each other, the dress and the statues’ necks. It also has parts of the face.

King Ramses II is one of the most famous monarchs of ancient Egypt, ruling from 1279 to 1213 BC.