Romania, Hungary clash over anti-refugees fence issue and PM Ponta’s statements. Budapest kicks off preparations for fence extension

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Hungarian ambassador in Bucharest summoned at the Romanian Foreign Ministry.

Update: The Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed on Wednesday that the Hungarian ambassador in Bucharest, who had been summoned at MAE headquarters, wanted to file a protest note, but the ministry could not accept such note, as it is against the protocol.

The Romanian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday summoned Zákonyi Botond, Hungary’s ambassador to Romania, to deliver him the Romanian side’s stance regarding the latest evolution of the past days, including the Hungarian part’s notice regarding the project of building a fence on the border with Romania. “(….) Practically, the Hungarian side wanted to divert the aim of the summons by handing in the above-mentioned note, which is unacceptable  (…) for the Romanian side,” reads MAE press release.

According to MAE, Hungary’s attitude suprised the Romanian authorities, considering that the cross-border and police cooperation between the two states has been constantly good and thus, it should have enabled a joint analysis. “Moreover, the Romanian side pointed out that at this moment there is no concrete situation that should confirm any migrant pressure invoked by the Hungarian authorities, in the precise area where the fence is designed and thus, the rush of the Hungarian part to make this project is unaccountable,” MAE also says.


The Romanian-Hungarian row on the refugees’ matter escalated on Wednesday, also fueled by the recent statements made by the Romanian PM Victor Ponta about Hungary’s intention to build a new fence on the border with Romania to prevent potential immigrants from entering Hungary. Meanwhile, according to a Reuters report, Hungarian authorities began to mark the spot where the fence will pass through on the section of the border with Romania. A Reuters journalist reported that he saw engineers and topographers marking the routing of the metallic fence, with about 12 police officers and military also attending.

The Hungarian foreign minister, Peter Szijjarto on Wednesday morning slammed PM Ponta’s new statements according to which some Hungarian policy makers ‘are no better than the ones in Libya or Syria.’

“Yesterday, Victor Ponta lost his self control and he offended the entire Hungary by his irrational statements. European civilized politicians are not pronouncing these wild calumnies. His remarks…have only one explanation: he completely lost his position in the Romanian domestic politics,” Szijjarto told a press release quoted by MTI.

Later on in the day, FM Szijjarto went on lashing against the Romanian authorities, saying that the Romanian politicians’ ‘frustration’ is probably generated by the fact that the current situation reveals how much Romania is ready to join Schengen. “Som Romanian politicians chipped in a spiral of lies when talking about joint solutions, making hostile allegations and telling lies which make our cooperation impossible,” said the head of the Hungarian diplomacy.

PM Ponta wrote on Facebook on Tuesday night that Hungary’s plans to expand the fence from the border with Serbia to the border with Romania ‘remind of Europe in the 30s-40s.’

“I will not answer the challenges coming from some Magyar governmental representatives- but you can read below and will understand the resentment I feel, as human being and European citizen, regarding some mentalities and attitudes that Europe used to face only in the 30s -40s!”, PM Ponta posted on his Facebook page, referring to the way the Hungarian Gov’t reacted to the European leaders’ criticism on the way it handled the migrants’ crisis.

The Romanian premier also said that, considering the behavior of some officials from Budapest, they are a shame for the EU values.

“Like many other European leaders, I have the duty to warn and sanction the constant behavior of some high-ranking governmental officials in Hungary. They are a shame for the EU culture and values, also on the anti Semite attitudes and regarding the treatment applied to all kind of minorities and also now during the refugees’ crisis!”, reads the PM’s statement.

“Barbed wire, aggressive laws, prisons and brutality will certainly not solve the problem- they will only show that in Hungary, at Europe’s heart, there are some policy makers who are far not better than the ones in Libya, Syria or any other countries where those refugees are escaping from,” Ponta added.

Later on on Wednesday, asked to comment the Hungarian FM’s criticism against him, the Romanian premier said that the Hungarian officials’ behaviour has nothing to do with the idea of Europe. “It’s something that almost all European leaders are saying and I am not so interested if the Magyar officials are upset about this. I join the European leaders who are sanctioning a shameful attitude for Europe (…) I will do that every time it’s necessary, regardless of the annoyment and the insults of those in Budapest. They are quarelling with all European politicians,” Ponta replied.

All this row started when the Romanian prime minister stated on Monday that at present, Romania’s logistics capacity doesn’t allow us to receive more than 1,700 immigrants and that if it could, Romania would receive more refugees but he doesn’t want them “to be treated with the stick” as the Hungarian neighbours are doing.

Following his statement, the Hungarian media reported that the Hungarian Foreign Ministry had summoned the Romanian charge d’affaires to explain the PM’s statements.

However, the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE) mentioned the Romanian charge d’affaires had not been summoned but he was the one who asked for the meeting, as the Romanian side had wanted to ask for further explanations related to Hungary’s intention to build a fence to stop migrants on the border with our country.

“MAE considers that the way the Hungarian side has acted is inadmissible and is opposing to the Strategic Partnership. Through these actions, the Hungarian side tries to draw the Romanian part in an artificial dispute, meant to divert attention from the basic aspects of the migrants’ issue and from the self-isolation effect encompassed by the measures disposed by the Hungarian side. The Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is firmly condemning such approaches,” reads MAE press release.

The Romanian ministry also underlined that the Romanain charge d’affaires had asked for the Tuesday’s meeting in order ‘to reiterate Romania’s firm position against the Hungarian part’s intention to build up a fence on the border with our country and to ask for extra explanations regarding this initiative.’


Read more about Hungary’s intention here:

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