Speaking in Brussels on Monday, Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said Hungary’s expelling of imprisoned people smugglers is “not directed against any of its neighbors”.
Minister Szijjártó said that Austria’s stepping up border controls was “no news”, adding that “Austria has been making entry increasingly difficult for months or years”. Speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council, Minister Szijjártó said he had talked to Alexander Schallenberg, his Austrian counterpart, who had indicated that Hungary’s expelling people smugglers was problematic for his country. Minister Szijjártó said the Hungarian government had made a “sovereign Hungarian decision not directed against any neighboring country” in particular. He said people smugglers “had better not even consider coming to Hungary” and pledged a continued stringent approach to border violators and to “people smugglers encouraging, helping or transporting them”. Concerning Austria, he said it was increasingly difficult for Hungarians and other nationals to enter Austria, whereas “Austrians can enter Hungary freely and without waiting [at the border], Hungarians have to wait, sometimes wait long, before they can enter Austria; their threatening to introduce border controls is no novelty”.
Minister Szijjártó was asked about a proposal to replace the requirement of a unanimous decision by a supermajority in European foreign policy making, and he said that “the abolition of a unanimous vote would obviously lead to the big countries passing the decisions while the small countries’ position would not count … this would give a chance to decisions against Hungary’s national interests”. He added that the EU could “only be strong if its member states are strong” as against endeavours seeking to build a European superstate through weakening the position of members”. He insisted it was “not by accident” that the criteria of unanimous consent were included in the EU treaties. “If one seeks to change that, they will question the ideal of the European Union, casting doubt on the will of the founders,” he said. Referring to press reports suggesting that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had alluded to possible sabotage against the Druzhba oil pipeline, Minister Szijjártó said in Brussels that “they are trying to pretend not to be aware as they usually do”, noting that the leaked US documents had not made the front page in the “liberal, fantastically objective and free European press”.