Sweden-Hungary relations turn frosty as diplomatic row escalates

Sweden-Hungary relations turn frosty as diplomatic row escalates
Swedish Social Affairs Minister Annika Strandhäll. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT
A diplomatic row over Budapest's new family policy heated up between Sweden and Hungary on Wednesday.

Sweden said it had summoned Hungary's ambassador to the foreign ministry.

“The meeting will take place today … in Stockholm,” foreign ministry spokesperson Anton Dahlquist told AFP, refusing to disclose other details.

On February 12th, Sweden's Social Democratic Social Affairs Minister Annika Strandhäll wrote on Twitter that Prime Minister Viktor Orban's seven-point family planning policy “reeks of the 1930s” and that “what is happening in Hungary is alarming”.

“Now Orban wants to have more 'real' Hungarian children. This kind of policy will harm the autonomy for which women have struggled for decades,” Strandhäll said.

Several days later, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said Sweden's ambassador had been summoned and informed that Strandhäll's comments were “unacceptable”.

“Hungary is spending money on families and Sweden is spending it on migrants,” Szijjarto said.

At the weekend, Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjen called Strandhäll a “poor sick creature” on television, remarks Strandhäll has refused to comment.

The new family policy laid out by Orban, who fiercely opposes immigration to Hungary from the Middle East and Africa, is aimed at stemming Hungary's plummeting population trend by giving young couples incentives to have children.

The new measures include interest-free housing and family-friendly car loans, and exempting women from income tax once they have their fourth child.

“This – not immigration – is the response of the Hungarian people,” Orban said.

Member comments

Become a Member to leave a comment.Or login here.