OREANDA-NEWS. In Budapest on Tuesday, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó presented an award to the Governor of Burgenland, and said that even recent difficulties have not shaken the friendship between Austria and Hungary. On the contrary, the friendship between the two countries could gain further strength.

President of Hungary János Áder awarded the Middle Cross of the Hungarian Order of Merit to Hans Niessl, Governor of Burgenland and leader of the regional Social Democratic Party of Austria. The decoration was in recognition of Mr. Niessl’s efforts to strengthen Austrian-Hungarian bilateral relations.
At the event Mr. Szijjártó said that even the closest friendships go through more difficult periods, which put them to the test. Circumstances have meant that one of Hungary’s oldest such relationships – the Hungarian-Austrian friendship – has faced serious challenges, he added.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade pointed out that the EU is currently experiencing the most serious challenge in its history: it has never been faced with a problem as serious as the migration crisis. Severe crisis situations can bring about unusual reactions, in which even the best of friends are capable of making ill-considered statements. The strength of a friendship, however, is proven by the fact that both parties overcome these experiences later on.

In his speech Mr. Szijjártó praised relations between Hungary and Burgenland, adding that out of the nine states in Austria, Burgenland is the one with which Hungary has the closest cooperation. “The border connects us, instead of dividing us”, but throughout the challenges we have had to fight hard to be able to say this today, he explained. Mr. Niessl has made significant efforts to ensure that the border does not divide us, but connects us – even in the hardest of times. Mr. Szijjártó noted that today the Hungarian-Austrian border is more permeable than before: there is a border crossing point every twelve kilometres.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade also noted that last week Austrian and Hungarian ministers of interior and defence held a meeting on the migration crisis. The two countries agreed that if they provide support to countries along the Western Balkan route they will not need to introduce measures that could have negative effects on people living close to the Austrian-Hungarian border.

Mr. Szijjártó praised the activities of Mr. Niessl, emphasising that he is committed to strengthening relations between Hungary and Burgenland – and Austria in general. He asked the Austrian politician to remain Hungary’s committed partner.