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Orban reaffirms solidarity between Hungary and Austria

Prime Minister Viktor Orban reaffirmed Hungary’s solidarity with Austria after a meeting on Friday with Austrian Vice Chancellor Michael Spindelegger.

"Our values are shared with the Austrian government. We stand on the foundation of European values, we are a part of European culture, and we are invested in European debates," Mr Orban said.

"Let us work to keep Hungary and Austria strategic partners," he added.

Mr Orban said Hungary takes EU law seriously, adding that the government was prepared to make changes to national legislation even in cases it did not think the changes were required by EU law.

The European Commission launched three accelerated infringement proceedings against Hungary - on the country’s new Central Bank Act, the mandatory retirement age for judges and the data protection authority - early in the week.

Austrian Vice Chancellor Michael Spindelegger said it was a good sign that the Hungarian government was open to dialogue and clearing up objections by the European Commission to recently approved legislation. He added that questions on the "many laws" that had been approved by Hungary’s Parliament lately had to be resolved "objectively, free of politics".

Mr Spindelegger said it would be appropriate for Hungary’s neighbours to communicate directly, "at the same table", rather than by sending messages through the media.

He said it was important for Hungary’s and Austria’s cooperation to be efficient from the point of view of economics too. He added that the two countries have to build a future on mutual economic interests.

Mr Spindelegger said Mr Orban had outlined Hungary’s most important goals and it became evident how Austria could support the country.

Mr Orban acknowledged that an early repayment scheme for foreign currency-denominated mortgages at discounted exchange rates had caused Austrian banks in Hungary big losses, but he added that the measures had caused difficulties for domestic banks as they had for foreign-owned ones.

Mr Orban also noted that the toxic financial construction of forex lending had to be resolved before 2012.

"Hungary respects Austria", Mr Orban said, thanking the neighbouring country for its support for Hungary’s EU accession.