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FM summons Spanish ambassador, as war of words escalates

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade summoned Spain’s ambassador to Budapest on Wednesday with relation to Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell’s statements criticizing Hungary as xenophobic, according to a report on official government website kormany.hu.

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Levente Magyar, parliamentary state secretary at the ministry, told reporters that what he described as the "far left-wing" Spanish government’s Foreign Minister Josep Borrell had delivered a crude outburst against Hungary at a public forum.

"There may be differences of opinion between the two countries, and in this turbulent European political situation criticisms may also arise in the minds of certain countries, but the tone of these criticisms cannot overstep the framework of fairness and correct cooperation, particularly if the Hungarian party has no tangible way of responding," Magyar said.

According to the state secretary, the Spanish minister accused Hungary of xenophobia and claimed that there is no separation of powers and no freedom of the press, in addition to which he termed Hungary and other countries of the region pseudo-democracies.

Magyar rejected Borrellʼs claims, arguing that full freedom of the press, the separation of powers, and the lack of xenophobia are clearly visible for anyone visiting Hungary.

"It is understandable that following the Orbán-Salvini meeting and the Sargentini Report, Hungary occupies a top spot in European political speech, but if speaks about Hungary [sic] in the tone used by Josep Borrell, it is something the Hungarian government cannot accept," he added.

The state secretary otherwise indicated that relations with Spain are improving at a particularly rapid rate, and the Spanish foreign minister is due to visit Budapest in October.