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Minister: No need to meet Austrians on farm issue

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Agriculture Minister Sándor Fazekas said on Saturday that there is no need for a meeting with his Austrian counterpart over the two countries’ differences concerning Hungary’s land law – this despite a promise of last month to do so.

Speaking at the opening of a regional cultural event in Nyírség on Saturday, Fazekas said he can see no need to meet a minister who “continually offends Hungarians with his statements over Hungarian farmland and over the Paks nuclear power plant.”

Fazekas emphasized that ownership of Hungarian farmland is a Hungarian issue, which the country will naturally manage on its own. He added that, under the law, Austrian farmers illegally obtained the right to use farmland in Hungary.

Fazekas’s Austrian counterpart Andrä Rupprechter had requested a meeting on the farmland issue in late December, and he voiced sharp criticism of Hungary’s land law at the Grüne Woche international agricultural fair in Berlin on Friday. Rupprechter maintains his contention that the law “strips Austrian farmers of their rights to benefit from Hungarian farmland … [for] which they have paid in advance to recipients,” further stating that the legislation is in violation of European Union law.

About 200 Austrian farmers who have amassed a combined 200,000 hectares of land in Hungary in the period since 1994 could be affected by the farmland issue.

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