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Visit to Vienna: Orban dismisses criticism

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Status: 07/28/2022 5:51 p.m.

Hungarian Prime Minister Orban dismissed criticism over his racist remarks during his visit to neighboring Austria. Questions were hardly allowed during the press conference with Chancellor Nehammer.

By Clemens Verenkotte, ARD Studio Vienna

With posters that said something like: “Orban, sneak away!”, chanting – “No one is illegal!” – and gentle boos, a small crowd of protesters greets the Hungarian morning guest. The ‘grannies against the right’ and the NGO ‘SOS Balkanroute’ are behind the police barricades on Vienna’s Ballhausplatz and express their displeasure at the visit of Budapest’s longtime government leader – as best they can.

However, passers-by and tourists in front of the Federal Chancellery do not watch them, but the well-crafted protocol in the same place: the black column of vehicles of the Prime Minister rolls up. Viktor Orban gets out of a black VW van. He briefly straightens his trouser legs and exchanges a warm handshake with Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer.

People demonstrate against Hungarian Prime Minister Orban’s visit to Vienna.

Image: dpa

One man applause

The Honor Company of the Austrian Armed Forces has taken office – since taking office last December, former career soldier Nehammer has attached great importance to it when visiting foreign colleagues.

When the national anthem is over and the two EU heads of government want to go to the Federal Chancellery, a man applauds – probably in the hope of getting the others to applaud. But since no one else wants to applaud Orban, he stops abruptly.

Nehammer talks about “dear Viktor”

An hour and a half later, double white doors decorated with gold leaf open into the press room. Orban and Nehammer stand in front of the microphones. And both know they must first address the issue that has been the subject of massive criticism and outright rejection since Orban’s speech last Saturday.

He also spoke to “dear Viktor” about the “latest incidents that you all know”, begins the Chancellor of the ÖVP. Without specifying that it is about the words of Orban on the “half-breeds”. Moreover, Orban had made allusions to “German know-how – from before, I mean”: in the context of the implementation of the emergency plan of the EU to reduce gas consumption.

‘We in Austria’ condemn all forms of trivialization, racism and anti-Semitism ‘in the strongest possible terms’, says Nehammer – before immediately adding: ‘We have resolved this in friendship and clearly and unequivocally’ .

Against migration for “cultural reasons”.

A political model that Orban is only too happy to take up. He knows that he “sometimes formulates in a misleading way”. And that’s why he asked Nehammer that “my words should be understood in a cultural sense”. In the fight against anti-Semitism and racism, Hungary can be “proud of its achievements”. There is “zero tolerance”, according to Orban: legally and politically.

But – and the Hungarian Prime Minister immediately adds this – if there are “doubts”, it corresponds to a “cultural tradition”. It is clear to him that he is “the only one in the EU who is against migration”, so he does not want to “beat around the bush”. However, this attitude does not have “biological or racist motivations, but cultural motivations”.

Clear rejection of the gas embargo

The Austrian Federal Chancellor does not show whether his host’s attempts at explanation are enough for him. Instead, the Austrian and Hungarian heads of government are showing solidarity in their rejection of a European Union gas embargo against Russia. Hungary has participated in all sanctions against Moscow, says Orban and qualifies: but not with the planned entry ban for the Putin-loyal Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church. “We couldn’t agree on that.”

But now the European Union faces a “wall: it’s called a gas embargo!” As a precautionary measure, the Hungarian Prime Minister advises Brussels “not to bump into the wall”. In any case, he considers the previous sanctions against Russia to be a bad strategy. Karl Nehammer seems to like the idea: a gas embargo “is not possible for Austria”. If German industry were hit, “we will be hit”, the Austrian economy would collapse and mass unemployment would be the result.

First of two questions on Hungarian public television

“Each side has two questions,” said a media representative at the Chancellery. “The first question is for Hungarian state television! Orban and Nehammer take the opportunity to save time and answer in detail the rather innocuous question about Orban’s position on the EU sanctions strategy.

The second question is addressed to an Austrian colleague who wants to know whether Hungary is still pursuing European unity. “The question is tempting”, rejoices Orban, who wants to immediately dispel a “misunderstanding”: Hungary cannot veto it because “without me, there can be no agreement”. Brussels is not “our boss. If it’s not good for us, it won’t happen”.

The time is over, not a single question can be asked to the many journalists. Mission accomplished? When the head of the Hungarian government leaves, a brief smile crosses his face.

Source www.tagesschau.de

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