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May 10, 2017

Hungary's foreign minister responds to Austrian Chancellor's comments about Hungary's EU position

Péter Szijjártó, minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said that "everyone can see that the policies employed by Brussels so far have been ineffective.” Those politicians who deny that there is a need for change in the EU are seriously hurting the bloc, he said, adding that Chancellor Kern was one such politician

Hungary's foreign minister has hit back at Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern’s comments suggesting that Hungary’s prime minister was interested in weakening the European Union.

Péter Szijjártó, minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said that "everyone can see that the policies employed by Brussels so far have been ineffective.” Those politicians who deny that there is a need for change in the EU are seriously hurting the bloc, he said, adding that Chancellor Kern was one such politician.

Hungary’s interests lie in a strong and competitive EU, but right now the bloc is neither of these things, Szijjártó said. The EU is becoming less and less competitive and is being overtaken by other global economic players, the minister said.

Kern told Austrian state radio ORF earlier on Tuesday that there were several European political movements, which, like the Hungarian prime minister, were not interested in a well-functioning EU and were looking to weaken the bloc.

Kern said this was why there was a need for a working Franco-German axis and leadership in the EU both on a formal and informal level.

The chancellor said that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and the leader of the Polish governing party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, were giving boost to trends pointing in the wrong direction, which he said did not bode well for the future of the EU.

Hungary, as a net recipient of EU funds, receives seven billion euros and proceeds to use that money to cut corporate taxes, Kern said. Austrian companies can go do business in Hungary, and as a net contributor, Austria even finances this, he added. 

Reacting to Kern’s comments on Hungary’s tax policies, Minister Szijjarto said the tax cuts in Hungary had been made possible by the “tireless and fruitful work of the Hungarian people, which the Austrian chancellor has nothing to do with”. Minister Szijjártó said EU funds were not “handouts”, but money Hungary was entitled to on the basis of EU treaties in return for “many western European, including Austrian companies, having made serious profits in Hungary”.