The Austrian Foreign minister got married over the weekend in a private ceremony, but the presence of Vladimir Putin – who danced, spoke German with the couple and enjoyed a traditional Styrian wedding – did trigger vehement reactions from domestic opposition parties and the Ukraine alike. The whole thing was most unconventional, Magyar Hírlap columnist Mariann Őry writes.
But there is a lesson in it for Hungary as well. Namely that we should take note of how Austria is protecting its neutrality and is fighting for independence. Amidst the West’s general dislike of Putin, every time an EU member state invited him it was taken as a statement.
Austria – currently holding the rotating EU presidency – has shown to both Berlin and Brussels how to invite Putin and welcome him with the respect every state leader deserves. Neither Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurtz nor the Freedom Party (FPÖ) members of his government took an oath of allegiance to Putin. Nor does it make any sense to even question Austria’s commitment to Europe, especially at a time when it is taking a firm anti-immigration stance in defense of European values.
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel also seems to be more amenable to Putin and despite the misgivings of the United States, Germany will go ahead with the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
Washington is already talking about sanctions against Russia, as is British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt who even wants the EU to pass new sanctions against Moscow.
Hungary keeps saying that sanctions against Russia hurt Europe more than they do their intended target and won’t bring us closer to solving the Ukrainian crisis either. The increasing number of Putin’s visits to EU countries is by no means a sign that Europe has “sided with the East”. It simply means that an increasing number of European leaders are keen on representing European interests instead of blindly following the United States.