Foreign Affairs

A Revival Of Good Old Austro-Hungarian Times? – Orbán Hopes Kurz Turns Austria To The Right

The new right-wing government of Austria headed by Sebastian Kurz was officially formed earlier this week. While many European capital voiced concerns over Kurz’s far right coalition partner, the Hungarian government warmly welcomed the radical political change in Vienna.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán sent a letter of congratulations to Sebastian Kurz who was sworn into his office as Austria’s new federal chancellor on Monday. The Hungarian Premier welcomed that Austria has once again a government that pursues a policy along the lines of Christian-conservative values, Bertalan Havasi , Orbán’s press chief told reporters. “I am looking forward to working together with you in the future through which we can contribute to strengthening Hungarian-Austrian relations, further developing central Europe and restoring our continent’s security,” Orbán said in the letter.

The victory of right-wing parties in Austria is good news for Hungary because in cooperation with “Austrian politicians who are not tied up by hypocrisy” there will be an opportunity to give real responses to the historical challenges facing Europe, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjártó said in response to the establishment of the new Austrian government. 

Szijjártó also said he held consultations by phone with his Austrian counterpart Karin Kneissl after the new Austrian government had been formed. They both confirmed that they were looking forward to working together and they were in agreement that the new composition of the Austrian government would open a new era in the development of Austrian-Hungarian strategic cooperation. It was agreed that Kneissl, who can reportedly speak Hungarian, would pay an official visit in Budapest in early 2018.

Sebastian Kurz and Péter Szijjártó – Hungary Today (source: István Filep – MTI)

 

Analyst: Austria-Hungary relations will improve under Kurz

It is unlikely that Austria’s new government, composed of the People’s Party (ÖVP) and the Freedom Party (FPO), will confront Hungary over migration, political analyst Tamás Levente Molnár told Hungarian public television on Thursday. Sebastian Kurz, the new chancellor, called for strengthening the defence of the European Union’s external borders already during his term as foreign minister, which was in line with the position of the Hungarian government, he said. The ÖVP had adopted several elements of FPO’s refugee policy which proved to be a successful strategy during the election, he said.  The analyst noted that Austria’s new government had declared its commitment to the European Union.

Hungarian press: mixed reactions

As the new right-wing coalition takes office in Austria, Hungarian newspapers also try to gauge the depth of the political change next door.

In Magyar Hírlap, Mariann Őry welcomes the decision of the Austrian People’s Party to choose the anti-immigration Freedom Party as its coalition partner. She comtrasts this choice to the one made by Angela Merkel of Germany who is to ally herself again with the Social Democrats. In her description of the events in Austria, ‘the future has begun’, in sharp contrast to Germany where as she sees it, the Christian Democrats have still not realised that alliance with the Social Democrats is a recipe ‘of slow death’.

On hvg.hu, by contrast, Péter Techet believes the best solution for Austria has always been a grand coalition led by the Social Democrats. The last time the People’s Party ruled without them was a period of instability and corruption, and it is no wonder that voters reverted to the proven recipe of a grand coalition. Techet dismisses the opinion of the deputy floor leader of the  Austrian Social Democrats who warned that ‘the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy is back’. He believes that although Chancellor Kurz agrees with Prime Minister Orbán of Hungary in curbing immigration and opposing a  more centralised European Union, he is not planning to increase the power of the executive – nor does he command the necessary sweeping majority in Parliament to do so.

via MTI, budapost.eu; photo: Balázs Szecsődi – kormany.hu