Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó strongly rejects French threats concerning the withdrawal of European Union funding from member states that are “not showing solidarity”. In an interview published in the Saturday edition of Austrian paper Die Presse, the Minister said that by doing so France is endangering the unity of the European Union.

“Hungary is showing the fullest possible level of solidarity and has spent over a billion euros on protecting the external border of the European Union. Had it not done so, hundreds of thousands more illegal immigrants would have flooded into the EU”, he told the liberal daily.

In reply to a question concerning the fact that this is not the first time that Hungary has been threatened with the freezing of EU funding and it is perhaps time for the Government to “moderate itself”, Mr. Szijjártó reacted to the statements made by the French Foreign Minister, stating that this is blackmail on the part of Jean-Yves Le Drian. “We have had enough of some people making it seem as if Central Europe is receiving EU funding as some kind of humanitarian aid or a sign of generosity on the part of Western Europe. When Hungary joined the EU it opened its markets. Austrian and German companies are generating huge profits”, he said.

In reply to a question on the upcoming European Union budget for the period 2021-2027, according to which Hungary will be vetoing the adoption of the budget if it feels that it is being put under pressure or discriminated against, the Hungarian Foreign Minister said battles are to be expected during the curse of the negotiations, but Hungary has allies. “Those, however, who similarly to the French President would like to make the payment of cohesion funding dependent on subjective conditions, are endangering the unity of the European Union”, he declared.

Die Presse pointed out that Jean-Yves Le Drian is not the only one who has called into question whether Hungary is respecting EU principles. Both the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission have strongly criticised the Stop Soros legislative package. In response, Mr. Szijjártó pointed out that all of these disputes are related to a single topic: migration. “Anyone who does not share the politically correct, hypocritical viewpoint of the European Commission faces attack”, he said.

“George Soros has made his intentions clear: he wants to flood Europe with migrants and bring about a mixed society. This is something we do not want”, he added. In reply to a question on whether he would be prepared to enter into a public debate with George Soros, he said: “What for? The positions are known”.

In response to the paper’s suggestion concerning the possible development of a Hungarian-Austrian-Italian axis with relation to migration, Mr. Szijjártó said that the new Italian and Austrian governments are much closer to Hungary than their predecessors, however Italy supports the distribution of migrants within the EU, which Hungary rejects. According to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Hungary is in agreement with Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, however, with regard to the fact that not a single illegal immigrant must be allowed to set foot on the territory of the European Union. “We are happy to help Italy return illegal immigrants to their homes”, he said.

The Hungarian politician was also asked with relation to the exchange of territory between Kosovo and Serbia, with relation to which Mr. Szijjártó said that the Western Balkan states should be allowed to join the EU as soon as possible. “Hungary is unhappy with the fact that the European Commission has set 2025 as the earliest possible date for further enlargement”, he added.

Die Presse also asked whether Fidesz has a “plan B” in the event that it is expelled from the European People’s Party, and whether it would join the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) or the Italian League parliamentary group. “We are members of the EPP and would like to remain so”, he said, adding that the People’s Party could gain considerable strength if it represented the will of the European people.