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Uproar over first statement by new Austrian Chancellor on Hungary

May 26th, 2016

A conservative columnist is outraged by a remark attributed to Mr Christian Kern who was quoted to have accused Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán of running a state built on Führerprinzip. Verbatim transcripts show that Mr Kern’s remark was milder than reported.

“It was an illusion to believe that the new Austrian Chancellor would inaugurate a new culture/al era/ in Austrian politics”, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szíjjártó commented in a prompt reaction to a statement attributed to the newly appointed Socialist Chancellor of Austria.  This was meant to paraphrase a comment made by Mr Christian Kern that „It is an illusion to believe that the issues of refugees can be solved by turning the state into an authoritarian state based on ’Führerprinzip’, as Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has done in Hungary”. Mr Szijjártó said that after previous Chancellor Werner Faymann had compared Hungary to the „darkest dictatorship of the 20th century”, in his very first comments Kern disappointed Hungarians by his „unacceptable, non-European,” remarks. (Mr Faymann said last September that taking refugees by train to a reception centre when they were hoping to reach Austria, reminded him of the darkest times of the 20th century.) According to the verbatim transcript of his words,  what Mr Kern actually said was: “It is an illusion to think that as to the asylum issue the problem can be charmed away by suggesting that reforms mean to transform Austria into an authoritarian Führer-state. Not (even) Mr Orbán for one can hope to spirit away the refugees, as recent developments have shown.”

Quoting the Chancellor’s statement as reported by Hungarian News Agency MTI, Heti Válasz’s Balázs Ablonczy thinks Austrian leaders should have learned an utterly different lesson from the latest political developments in their country. Mr van der Bellen, a former Communist sympathiser won the presidential elections by the narrowest of margins with all forces behind him except the anti-immigration Freedom Party. In other terms, the governing forces should take the migration issue very seriously rather than descend to “canteen level” speech. In one of his very first statements as Chancellor, Ablonczy says, “he has managed to knock off that bar, although it was not too high”. The matter is hopeless, he concludes: “The European Left are just like the Bourbons – they “have learned nothing and forgotten nothing””.

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