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Hungarian Foreign Minister “Appreciates” Dutch Counterpart’s Call in Ongoing Diplomatic Spat

Tom Szigeti 2017.08.28.

Speaking to Hungarian state television, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said that he had “appreciated” a call from his Dutch counterpart Bert Koenders, in which the latter distanced himself from outgoing Dutch ambassador Gajus Scheltema’s controversial remarks comparing the Hungarian government to terrorists.

The Dutch ambassador’s residency in Budapest (Photo: Embassy of the Netherlands in Hungary Facebook page)

In an interview with Hungarian weekly 168 óra last week, Scheltema, whose time as ambassador is coming to an end, sharply criticized the Hungarian government’s “cheap propaganda” campaigns demonizing the EU (in the controversial “Stop Brussels!” campaign), Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros, and refugees.

In his criticism, Scheltema also compared the Orbán government’s campaigns to those of terrorist groups, saying that Islamic extremism “applies the same principles to create an enemy as the Hungarian government”.

In response to these comments, the foreign ministry recalled Hungary’s ambassador to The Netherlands for consultations in Budapest.

In addition, Hungary’s Foreign Minister announced that ambassadorial-level communication between the two countries would be discontinued for an indefinite period of time.

Péter Szijjártó claimed that, while Hungary has no intention to further exacerbate tensions with another EU country, “no one can defame the country without consequences.”

Outgoing Dutch Ambassador to Budapest Gajus Scheltema (photo: László Mudra – vs.hu)

Reacting to this incident, Dutch Foreign Minister Koenders told Szijjártó that their ambassador’s remarks did not reflect the Dutch government’s position in any way. “There is obviously no connection between the Hungarian government and terrorism”, he said, adding that he was “unhappy” with the ambassador’s remark.

In addition, last Friday afternoon, Koenders issued a public statement clearly distancing his government from Ambassador Scheltema’s comments, in which he explained that:

It is clear that the Hungarian government’s actions bear no relation to terrorism. Even the suggestion that there is a connection between a member of the EU and the methods of terrorists is wrong, and I would like to dissociate myself from such a statement. Hungary is an ally and a fellow EU member state.

Today on state television, Szijjártó attempted to link the Dutch ambassador’s comments to Europe’s ongoing refugee and migrant crisis, claiming that Scheltema represents a “pro-migration” Dutch government, while the “pro-security” Hungarian government had “made it clear that it would not allow illegal migrants to enter.”

And in an interview with pro-government daily Magyar Hirlap, Szijjártó reiterated these claims, arguing that Hungary’s ongoing international disputes are due to differences between “pro-migration” governments in Europe and the Hungarian government.

Via MTI, Hungary Matters, the Embassy of the Netherlands in Hungary, 168 óra, and the Budapest Business Journal

Image via mizzima.com, vs.hu, and Facebook

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