In early November it was announced that after 26 years the annual German-Hungarian Forum, where representatives of the two countries discuss their multi-faceted cooperation, had been called off. The cancellation surprised many, as Germany is Hungary’s largest trading partner.
After the news broke, Magyar Nemzet reported the cancellation could have been prevented by the Hungarian government. But Hungary’s foreign ministry now says the forum was cancelled at the request of Germany, reports Index.hu.
MSZP parliamentarian Attila Mesterházy reportedly contacted foreign ministry undersecretary Levente Magyar to find out the reason. According to Magyar, “the German-Hungarian Forum was not held this year at the request of the [German] Federation due to the Bundestag election, and also because it is not favorable to organize such forums as a government is forming.”
As we reported this month, the Hungarian government’s frustrations with German criticisms at the forum first became apparent in 2012 when – contrary to the tradition of holding the event in Budapest and Berlin on alternating years – the government began pushing to hold it in Berlin, presumably to avoid Hungarian media coverage.
This was especially important in the election year of 2014 when, according to Magyar Nemzet, the government hoped to prevent Germany’s former Foreign Minister and current President, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a regular critic of Hungary, from raising politically inconvenient topics in view of Hungarian voters by again moving the forum to Berlin. Steinmeier has reportedly refused to participate in the forums since, and the Hungarian government has been sending only low-level delegates.