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Hungary Angered Over New Austrian Chancellor’s ‘Fuhrer’ Remarks

The Hungarian government has expressed considerable outrage over remarks by new Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern that Hungary is an “authoritarian state.”

The Foreign Minister of Hungary, Peter Szijjarto, has expressed outrage over comments made by the new Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern who said that Hungary is an “authoritarian state,” and specifically used the word “Führerstaat”— a term used by the Nazis to describe the state under the authoritarian principle of leadership, or “Führerprinzip.”

Mr. Kern made the remarks on Tuesday in an effort to appeal to Hungary to change its policy toward migrants, Die Presse reports.

Mr. Szijjarto hit back saying that the attitude of Vienna when it came to migrants and refugees was “bigoted and borne by frustration,” in an interview with Hungarian media.

The Hungarian minister added that the government in Budapest are under no illusions that the change in Chancellor, or any other of the ministerial positions in Austria, will lead to a different policy on migrant issues.

He said that the only reason the previous chancellor, Werner Faymann, enacted border controls was because of pressure from public opinion rather than a political desire to do so.

The new Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ) leader is sending the same message as his predecessor, Mr. Faymann, when it comes to rhetoric against Austria’s eastern neighbours.

In the past Mr. Faymann repeatedly criticised Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbàn over his migrant policy, and compared the actions of the Hungarians to the deportations that occurred under the Third Reich.

Mr. Kern also gave his opinion on the photo-finish result of the Austrian presidential elections and victory for former Green party leader Alexander Van der Bellen. He warned that just because the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) candidate won half the vote of Austrians, it was no reason to adopt authoritarian policies in regards to migrants:

“To believe you can wipe out the problem of the asylum process by giving the impression that reforms will transform Austria into an authoritarian führerstaat is an illusion,” Mr. Kern commented, adding that not even Mr. Orbàn could “beam away” migrants in his “authoritarian state” of Hungary.

President elect Mr. Van der Bellen took a more nuanced approach, regarding the FPÖ as a protest vote:

“Many people have an anger and fear for their jobs,” and claimed: “Obviously, many people feel they are not seen and heard in this country.”

Mr. Van der Bellen has been criticised because of his past in the Green party when a poster campaign was created that claimed “whoever loves Austria is sh*t.” He also boldly claimed that he would not recognise an FPÖ government even if they won the upcoming elections in 2018.

The new president, who is set to take office in July, is also a noted cheerleader for the European Union (EU) and continued European federalism.

He said that the FPÖ was “playing with fire” when it came to its anti-EU stance, stating that being anti-EU meant that the FPÖ was not fit to govern Austria.

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