Nobody can get so annoyed as Péter Szíjjártó

Author: Pál Dániel RÉNYI Original title: Senki sem tud úgy felháborodni, mint Szijjártó Péter
Publication: 444.hu Date: 17:17 13/09/2015

Nobody can get so annoyed as Péter Szíjjártó

We heard from MTI (Hungarian Wire Service – trans.) on Friday that Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign and External Affairs, had got annoyed. The article itself did not raise much interest as in the last two weeks Péter Szijjártó did nothing but get annoyed. He continued on Saturday from where he had stopped on Friday. Not even a weekend can go by without him getting upset.

The head of Hungarian diplomacy has had a long summer, and it seems autumn will not be easier for him either.

The whole thing started at the beginning of the refugee crisis when Viktor Orbán recognised his opportunity to become a Europe-wide respected statesman. He started to go against the European mainstream, drawing angry press coverage and heated statements by politicians onto himself and his government. The Minister of Foreign and External Affairs had to take criticism.

In the middle of July, the big decision was made that Hungary would not comply with the Dublin regulations and would not accept any refugees coming back from Western Europe. Zoltán Kovács, government spokesman, János Perényi, Hungarian Ambassador in Vienna, and the Ministry of the Interior also confirmed the news. However, it was Szijjártó’s task to admit publicly that none of the statements made by the government half a day earlier were true.

Due to the fence, loads of critical remarks have been directed at the Hungarian government, and Szijjártó has struggled more and more to keep up, which was taken badly by his diplomatic partners. In the course of his brief meeting with Tomislav Karamarko, head of the Croatian opposition, in July, he told Mr. Karamarko that the relationship between Croatia and Hungary had never been so bad since Zsolt Hernádi was prosecuted and the construction of the gas pipeline between the two countries cancelled.

At the beginning of August, Szijjártó did an interview for the Passauer Neue Presse, in which he said in all honesty that the reason why the Hungarian government had led a domestic campaign against the refugees was that unless Hungary appeared to be unwelcoming, “the country’s willingness to accept refugees would be endangered”.

A couple of days later, Victor Ponta, Prime Minister of Romania, called Orbán a nationalist in a TV interview, which made the Hungarian Foreign Affairs Ministry so angry that they immediately summoned the Romanian Ambassador.

Then in August, Szijjártó went on a rampage, and since then it has been very difficult to follow when he gets involved in a quarrel and with whom.

It all started with Laurent Fabius, the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, who criticized the Hungarian government for building its fence, which he considered to be unacceptable even for animals and which he thought showed a lack of respect of European values. This made Szijjártó so angry that the next day he immediately summoned the French chargé d’affaires.

He got even more irritated when the Austrian Mminister of the Interior suggested that countries failing to demonstrate solidarity with the refugees should have their financial support from the EU reduced. The next day, Szijjártó sent a message from Slovenia saying that “certain European leaders go against European values and interests in the field of immigration” and he repeatedly rejected the quota system.

On the first Saturday of September, Szijjártó made it clear that there were a lot of people responsible for the fact that hundreds of refugees set off towards Austria on foot and that the situation at Keleti train station has been disastrous for weeks, but the Hungarian government was not among them. It was only two days later that in Standard, an Austrian daily, Szijjártó practically called Werner Faymann, the Austrian Chancellor, a liar, as a retaliation to the Chancellor calling Viktor Orban one the day before. It was also reported that relations between Hungary and Austria had never been so bad for 25 years, and it was only Monday!

Szijjártó had managed to make another offensive remark the same day by saying that as far as migration was concerned, several western politicians were competing in “the world hypocrisy championships”.

He repeated this statement the next day by calling all those European politicians who were threatening to withdraw financial support from those countries which were critical of the EU’s asylum policy , offensive and hypocritical. The next day Szijjártó called the Swedish Prime Minister a hypocrite, after Stefan Löfven said that although the Hungarian government received the highest financial support from the EU, it was not showing solidarity in managing the refugee crisis. According to Szijjártó, this was unacceptable.

And then 11th September arrived, a Friday. His next victim was the German Vice-Chancellor, who said that the Hungarian Government was failing to comply with the rules relating to the refugee camps specified by international treaties. Szijjártó found Sigmar Gabriel’s statement “nauseating” and rejected it. By Saturday it was clear that it had been too hasty to talk about an unprecedented problem in Austro-Hungarian relations the previous Monday. In an interview with Spiegel Online Faymann drew a comparison between the Hungarian refugee policy and the holocaust. Szijjártó found his remark absolutely unacceptable and said that the chancellor had been running a campaign of lies against Hungary for weeks.

And the best may be yet to come. From Tuesday, with its borders closed, the Hungarian government might expect even more dramatic events followed by much harsher criticism from the West. Whether or not “the football legend of Dunakeszi” ( a satirical reference to Szíjjártó and his hometown – trans. ) will have enough derogatory remarks left to deal with this remains to be seen. You can find out from our coverage next week. Stay tuned!

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