According to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the attempt to divide the Visegrád Group (V4) will not succeed.

Péter Szijjártó reacted to comments by the Austrian Chancellor in a statement to Hungarian news agency MTI on Thursday. In an interview for German daily Handelsblatt, Christian Kern said he had recently held talks with his Czech and Slovakian counterparts, and had come to the conclusion that the countries of the Visegrád Group are divided, with the Czechs and Slovaks on one side and the Hungarians and Poles on the other, according to the Chancellor.

The Hungarian Foreign Minister said that attempts by certain Western European politicians to divide the V4 had been registered for some time.

“We have bad news for them: these attempts will not succeed. The Visegrád Group is the closest and most effective alliance within the European Union and it will remain so, whether the Austrian Chancellor likes it or not”, Mr. Szijjártó said in the statement.

In the interview for Handelsblatt, the Austrian Chancellor also said that in the EU it is not viable to live according to the concept of an illiberal democracy, and to force that on others. “The EU has tried to call on Poland and Hungary to act in solidarity, but has made no progress”, he stated. In reply to a question on sanctions, Chancellor Kern said that if someone does not fulfil their obligations as a state governed by the rule of law, then that must have consequences. According to Mr. Kern, Hungary is a net beneficiary in the EU. “The only instrument that net contributors have against Poland and Hungary is financial expenditure. This is something we must talk about in future”, he said.

Mr. Kern said that certain governments are behaving as if Europe were an ATM machine, not a community of values. “I wish anyone who would like to convince Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán using good humanist arguments good luck”, the Austrian Chancellor stated.

“We respectfully draw attention” to the fact that Austrian enterprises have taken home billions of euros in profits from the European Union funding received by Hungary, despite the fact that the EU is “not an ATM machine”, Mr. Szijjártó said.

In view of developments in Austrian domestic politics, the head of government’s tension is understandable, “but it would be better if he left us out of the Austrian election campaign”, the Hungarian Foreign Minister said in the statement.

(Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade)