Hungary’s foreign minister furious after demand for country’s expulsion from European Union

Hungary’s Foreign Minister, Péter Szijjártó, was visiting Moldova Tuesday morning, when he commented on statements made by Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister, Jean Asselborn, who suggested that Hungary should be expelled or at least suspended from the European Union, for its rule of law violations and the poor treatment of refugees and migrants. Interestingly, Mr. Szijjártó used a line of attack just introduced by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in a speech to Fidesz politicians and pro-government thinkers less than 48 hours earlier, when he referred to Luxembourg’s foreign minister as a left-wing “nihilist” hellbent on destroying European culture. Mr. Orbán threw around the term “nihilist” in a speech this past weekend, when remarking:

“The nihilists represent a minority within society, but they have long occupied the European elite. The nihilist viewpoint has settled, in a clandestine manner, on the institutions of the European Union and the world. These are the ones who, hiding behind the mendacious discourse of political correctness, reject all debates based on values.”

Viktor Orbán on Sunday. Photo: MTI.

Viktor Orbán on Sunday. Photo: MTI.

Mr. Orbán also added, speaking at the same weekend event, that “the communists are like Terminator. They can come back to life even from a few broken, scattered pieces.”

The 37 year old Mr. Szijjártó is widely regarded by those close to the governing Fidesz party  as having been appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs because of his unwavering loyalty to the prime minister and for being a good, close study of Mr. Orbán. His rhetoric, intonation and even gestures bear a close resemblance to those of the prime minister. When Mr. Asselborn stated in an interview with Germany’s Die Welt that Hungary was in “massive violation” of fundamental European values and that the EU could no longer turn a blind eye to “such inappropriate behaviour,” adding that due to the Orbán government, Hungary “should be excluded temporarily, or if necessary for ever, from the EU”, Mr. Szijjártó provided the following response:

“We’ve known even before that Jean Asselborn is not a serious character. It really shows that he only lives a few kilometers away from Brussels. He wants to exclude Hungary from the EU, but he has already long excluded himself from the circle of politicians who can be taken seriously. Being the good nihilist that he is, he is working tirelessly on destroying European security and culture.”

Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó. Photo: MTI / György Varga

Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó. Photo: MTI / György Varga

Then referring to Hungary’s ill treatment of migrants and the upcoming anti-migrant referendum on October 2nd (Mr. Asselborn had said that “Hungary is not far away from issuing orders to open fire on refugees”), Foreign Minister Szijjártó said:

“Hungarians have a right to express an opinion. Only they have the right to decide with whom they wish to live, and with whom they do not want to live side-by-side. This right cannot be taken away by Brussels, nor by the Foreign Minister of Luxembourg.”

Mr. Szijjátó then offered a “diagnosis” of Mr. Asselborn, remarking that the foreign minister of Luxembourg is a “frustrated and conceited” man.

Meanwhile Mr. Orbán has fired up his referendum rhetoric even further. Whether he will be able to convince at least 50% of the electorate to cast a ballot on October 2nd, thus rendering the anti-migrant plebiscite valid, is now the biggest question surrounding the vote. In Parliament on Monday, Mr. Orbán accused the left-wing mayors of some Hungarian cities and districts in Budapest of wanting to grant asylum to refugees and settle them in these urban centres, against the will of their local populations. Obviously, the mayors of Hungarian municipalities have no such power–they cannot grant asylum to anyone above the head of the national government. Mr. Orbán knows this, but his rhetoric plays into his longstanding narrative of the left and liberals being in the service of unpatriotic forces.

Mr. Orbán does, however, have a solution for the migrants, namely to sink their boats. “Like the Romans did, we too must sink the empty and illicit ships in the Mediterranean.” The migrants would be saved, according to Mr. Orbán, before the boats are destroyed, and they would be sent to Libya, where a camp capable of holding three million asylum-seekers could be established.

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