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Austrian foreign minister visits Hungary amid strained relations

Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik paid an official visit to Hungary on Thursday amid strained relations between the two countries over state-owned energy firm OMV’s attempts to take over Hungarian peer MOL and the pollution of a Hungarian river by an Austrian tannery.

Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány said that resolving the issues was in the common interests of both countries and that they would be discussed in the next joint Austrian-Hungarian cabinet meeting in November. Hungary is angry at OMV, which is 31.5% owned by the Austrian state, for attempting to take over MOL and has accused the Austrian government of interfering in the case.

The Hungarian government on Monday passed a law aimed at protecting companies such as MOL from foreign takeovers. Plassnik said that politics should be kept out of the takeover move as it was an issue that the two companies should resolve. Hungary has also recently blasted the Austrian government over the pollution of the Rába river, which runs through both countries, by an Austrian tannery, saying it has made little effort to address the issue. (news.monstersandcritics)