The Austrian People’s Party (OVP) was “very rational” in the debate over Fidesz within the European People’s Party (EPP), Péter Szijjártó, Hungary’s foreign minister, said in an interview published by the APA news agency. The OVP politicians’ attitude to Hungary was “soberminded”, even if “this was not always detectable in the vote”. The majority of EPP and OVP lawmakers voted in favour of launching an Article 7 procedure against Hungary in the European Parliament. Szijjártó called Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz a “close friend”, adding that their friendship dated back to their period of being the youngest European foreign ministers in office. He said they had agreed on issues concerning Europe’s future and supported one another. Szijjártó said the EPP had “shifted to the left considerably” over the past few years. The minister insisted that Fidesz had suspended exercising its rights in the EPP in March 2019 while charges related to its violation of the EU’s fundamental rights are investigated. Fidesz, he added, continued to pursue the policy embraced by EPP upon its accession to the party alliance. Szijjártó said Fidesz was looking forward to the debate the EPP planned regarding the party, “if it is given a chance to participate in it”.
Szijjártó and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on Monday paid a visit to Berlin and held talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel and Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the acting leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party. Assessing the visit, Szijjártó highlighted Hungary’s strong economic and trade relations with Germany, while noting considerable differences in the two countries’ migration policy. “We think that the preservation of Christian European culture must be a priority in Europe; and we must protect our borders to achieve that,” Szijjártó said. He said the idea that Europe should formulate a common European migration policy had failed, arguing the right “cannot be taken away” from any European member state to decide on whom it wants to live with or whom it allows to enter its territory.