Israeli FM Ashkenazi Distances Himself From Hungary Statement on 'Shared National Values'

New Israeli foreign minister's office denies these issues were discussed in phone call, says will ask Budapest for clarifications ■ Hungarian Foreign Ministry then says statement was 'mistranslated'

Noa Landau
Noa Landau
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Gabi Ashkenazi, February 2020
Gabi Ashkenazi, February 2020Credit: Ilan Assayag
Noa Landau
Noa Landau

Israel's newly appointed Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi spoke to Hungarian Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Péter Szijjártó Thursday and discussed the two countries' "common standpoint" on the issue of "retaining identity and the importance of sovereignty and security," as well as "action against illegal migration," the Hungarian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.  

According to the Hungarian statement, Szijjártó assured Ashkenazi that they will "continue to refrain from supporting statements that condemn Israel in both the EU and the United Nations, and also regards the procedure against Israel by the International Criminal Court as unfounded." 

Bibi swears in his colossal coalition and readies for a courtroom showdown

-- : --

However, the statement did not mention the issue of Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank.

Ashkenazi's office denied the content of the conversation as described by his Hungarian counterpart, adding that Israel will ask Budapest for clarifications. 

His office added that the two ministers did not discuss the issues claimed in the Hungarian statement, and that issues such as sovereignty, illegal migration and common national values, "were not mentioned in the conversation between the two."

Following Ashkenazi's response, the Hungarian Foreign Ministry said their statement was "mistranslated." The new wording said: "Hungary and Israel share a common standpoint with relation to the issue of retaining identity and the importance of sovereignty and security, as well as with respect to the need to take action against illegal immigration."

Ashkenazi's office then released a new statement that said he spoke to Szijjártó and "Thanked him for his kind words as he enters his new role. He also added that he appreciates Hungary standing by Israel in the European Union and in other international forums."

Israel's Foreign Ministry recently blasted the European Union for practicing "megaphone diplomacy" on Tuesday after the union's foreign policy chief warned against annexing parts of the West Bank, and several member states voiced condemnation and disapproval over the move. 

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a joint press conference at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem. July 19, 2018Credit: Debbie Hill/AP

"The parties agreed that governments that are founded on patriotic, national values and that enforce national interests are being attacked in international political life as a result of hypocrisy, bias, and political correctness," said the statement.

“In view of the fact that both Hungary and Israel have governments of this nature, the further development of strategic cooperation between the two countries is guaranteed”, the parties jointly stated. 

During the telephone meeting, Ashkenazi thanked Hungary for "it's committed stand and fair behavior" with Israel, while his counterpart assured him that Israel "can continue to count on Hungary’s fair and balanced standpoint." The two ministers also agreed to meet in person soon.  

Hungary has faced strong criticism in recent years for some of its problematic policies. And last week, in its annual report, the Freedom House rights watchdog accused Hungary of leaving “the group of democracies entirely," and dropping "any pretense of respecting democratic institutions."

Additionally, Hungarian lawmakers on Tuesday approved legislation banning the legal recognition of transgender citizens.

In 2018, the Orbán government, which sees Muslim immigrants as a threat to Christian culture in Europe, withdrew state funding from gender studies programs and removed official accreditation for masters degrees in the discipline.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán built a steel fence on Hungary's border with Serbia to seal off the Balkans route of migration, where hundreds of thousands of people marched through from the Middle East to Western Europe at the peak of the crisis in 2015.

In January, Hungary has expressed official support for Israel's rejection of the International Criminal Court's intention to launch a probe into alleged Israeli war crimes against Palestinians. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Click the alert icon to follow topics: