Hungary wants to forge a new anti-migrant alliance with Austria and Italy following recent elections in both countries which saw populist parties do well. “This initiative is not directed against the western part of Europe. This is directed against migration, because we put our own interests and security first,” said Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto.
Hungary has already cited security concerns regarding Muslim refugees, and together with the Visegrad Group of countries has promoted the right to preserve the traditional Christian make-up of its society.
In Austria, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said that the country will use its presidency of the European Union this year to shift the bloc’s focus away from resettling refugees within the EU and towards preventing further waves of arrivals. In Italy, the governing centre-left Democratic Party lost recent elections in favour of right-wing parties that focused their electoral campaigns on anti-migrants policies.
“We would definitely like to develop closer and more effective cooperation with Austria, and hopefully also with the future Italian government,” Szijjarto said.
Hungary has recently also been in the spotlight as János Lázár, the head of the prime minister’s office, posted a video in which he blamed immigrants in Vienna for pushing out “white Christians.” He was much criticised by civil society but Mr Szijjarto did not find the comment inappropriate.
“It is an open issue in Austria that the number of Muslim kids enrolled in Vienna’s schools is approaching the number of Austrian kids,” he commented.
In fact, despite many adverse comments on social media, Chancellor Kurz seems to agree with many of Hungary’s policies. During a visit by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s at the end of January, Mr Wurz called his counterpart a ‘hero’ for closing the Western Balkan route and defending the EU’s external borders.