Foreign Affairs

Hungarian Foreign Minister, Austrian Socialists Clash Over Migrant Crisis And EU Funds

“Even our Social Democratic friends should realise that the era of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy is over,” Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said at a press conference on Friday in response to harsh criticism from the Austrian Socialists.

Andreas Schieder, group leader of the Austrian Social Democratic Party (SPÖ), criticised Szijjártó for his “unfair” remarks concerning Austria’s chancellor Christian Kern. Schieder insisted that “the European Union is a community of values and not to be mistaken for a bankomat”. Answering questions at the press conference on Friday, the Hungarian minister said that “once one has no respect for Hungary or the Hungarian people, they will react in the same manner”, adding that “the time for decencies is over”. “Nobody asked the Austrian chancellor to come up with accusations… once he did so, he should expect reactions,” he added.

Chancellor Christian Kern had suggested in an interview to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung earlier this week that the European Union should reduce funding for Hungary and Poland if they fail to comply with EU rules. Péter Szijjartó on Thursday said that the Austrian Chancellor’s remarks were an indication of “warfare” against countries reluctant to accommodate illegal migrants. He insisted that the “warfare” took the form of “legal or financial threats” fitting in a “plan” devised by US financier George Soros to make EU countries give in and receive migrants.According to Szijjartó, Kern has now “sided with Left-Liberal politicians” supporting Soros, and has “made it clear that he wants to cut EU funds due to Hungary under (relevant) agreements”.

While Szijjártó engaged in bitter dispute with the Austrian Socialists, he pledged his “full support and solidarity” to Sebastian Kurz, the Austrian Foreign Minister and leader of the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP). Szijjartó said earlier this week that Kurz “was right” to criticize Chancellor Kern’s views on migrant crisis. Kurz said in an interview with Austrian daily Österreich that Italy should cease transferring migrants to the mainland by ferry after saving them from the Mediterranean. The migration route on the Mediterranean should be sealed, Kurz insisted, and Austria is “preparing to defend” the Brenner Pass, the most significant border crossing between the two countries. “The closing of the Western Balkan migrant route has proven that sealing the route is possible”, Kurz said.

via MTI