Luxembourg’s foreign minister responds to Szíjjártó’s intemperate comments

February 21, 2018
Photo: Kiril Konstantinov (EU2018BG)

It has become a hallmark of Hungarian diplomacy to publicly attack anyone who dares openly express criticism of what is happening in Hungary. Luxembourg foreign minister Jean Asselborn (pictured) experienced this first-hand after Germany daily Der Tagesspiegel published an interview with him in which he expressed criticism of the Orbán regime.

On Monday, Asselborn told Der Tagesspiegel:

  • Viktor Orbán’s decision to attack civil society organizations offering assistance to asylum-seekers represents an “attitude [that] suits a dictator who believes that the drive to maintain power is more important than any political moral decency.”
  • Article 7, the EU’s so-called nuclear option, “needs to be vigorously activated in the EU.”
  • The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights needs to “report to the UN Human Rights Council without delay on the events in Hungary.”
  • Hungary is “sliding inexorably in the direction of a country that has lost the compass of human dignity.”
  • Orbán’s “vile scare against Muslim refugees forced to leave their country in the face of war and misery…is a nonsensical distortion of Christian ethics.”

Not long after the Der Tagesspiegel interview with Asselborn was published, Hungary’s foreign minister Péter Szijjártó released a statement to MTI, Hungary’s state-run news service, which said:

  • Asselborn “hates Hungary.”
  • Asselborn is blindly in favor of immigration.
  • Asselborn is doing George Soros’ bidding.
  • Asselborn is an idiot.
  • Hungarians do not need Asselborn to know what is good for them.
  • “[Asselborn], together with Soros and his cohorts, would dismantle Hungary’s border fence and flood Hungary with migrants.

In response, on Tuesday, Asselborn gave an interview to Magyar Nemzet, in which he said:

  • “I do not hate Hungary, Péter Szijjártó or Viktor Orbán. This has nothing to do with individuals. This is about fundamental values, law and respecting human dignity in every EU country. We cannot accept that there are those who would punish civil society organizations that assist asylum-seekers. Such methods are only used in an authoritarian system and are completely unworthy of a democratic European Union. Such attitudes towards those in need do not reflect the Christian values that Viktor Orbán so proudly claims to defend.”
  • “I have never met George Soros, and I don’t even know what the Soros Plan is! [Szijjártó] said I am in favor of migration. If we look at the numbers, we see that there are 600,000 people living in Luxembourg and we have taken in 800 refugees. There are 10 million people in Hungary, and – if I am correct – you would have to accept less than 1,500 refugees. So, I don’t understand. This has nothing to do with a flood of migrants. This is about having solidarity with Greece and Italy.”
  • “Obviously, there must be limits to migration, but the Geneva Convention makes it clear that we must help those who are refugees. If someone flees their home because of war, then we cannot speak of limits. There is a difference between migrants and refugees: every refugee is a migrant, but not every migrant is a refugee.”
  • “Personally, I have a totally normal relationship with Péter [Szijjártó]. I have no problem with him. I harbor no ill-will toward him that would sour our relationship. As I’ve said before, this is about principles and values. Hungarian politics is going against the principles of the European Union.”