Hungary Recalls Its Ambassador From Netherlands After Harsh Criticism of Orban

Hungary announced the withdrawal of its ambassador from Netherlands on Friday, following an interview in which the Dutch ambassador to Hungary criticized Hungary and likened the country’s government with terrorists.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said at a press conference that Hungary has summoned its ambassador from Netherlands for urgent consultations. He said the measure is “one of the most radical steps in diplomacy.”

The move came after Dutch ambassador to Hungary gave an interview in which he attacked Hungarian government and likened its attitude to that of terrorists.

“Here is a group whose members are the losers of globalization, and for this reason they have turned to extremism and fanatical religiosity because it gives them a sense of security. They create enemies by the same principle as the Hungarian government,” the ambassador told Hungarian magazine 168 Óra on Thursday.

“Here only pro and contra positions are possible; you are either with us or against us,” he commented. “Everyone is constantly looking for an enemy […] “…if someone doesnʼt agree with those in power, they are immediately seen as the enemy”, he said.

The Dutch ambassador also defended American billionaire philanthropist George Soros, whom Hungarian PM Viktor Orban accused of undermining the country.

“He deserves respect for the gigantic sums he has invested in democracy and the building of civil society. For this reason, the Hungarian governmentʼs extraordinarily intense and aggressive attacks against him are, to put it mildly, strange to every foreigner.”

Hungarian FM said that the ambassador’s remarks “offend the dignity and sovereignty of Hungary.” Szijarto also demanded explanation from Dutch foreign ministry, and rejected the ambassador’s criticism as “slanders and unfounded pronouncements”.

“Hungary is not a punching bag,” he said. “A policy of submissiveness may have been customary in the past in Hungary, but it is no longer,” warning that “if the Dutch want to continue bilateral relations in this way, then we will carry on this way too”, the minister said.

Conservative government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban has been accused of stifling media freedoms in Hungary, as well as its tough stance on illegal immigration. The EU also criticized Budapest for the new higher education laws that targeted Soros funded Central European University.

Source: Budapest Business Journal

Photo Credit: Remo Casilli / Reuters