Steinmeier defends Hungary’s EU seat
The Hungarian-Serbian_border. Source: Wikimedia
Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has said he did not share a view expressed by his counterpart in Luxembourg that Hungary should be booted out of the European Union because of its tough anti-migration policies. Hungary has also established a specialist government department to “protect” Christian rights.
“This is not an agreed position in Europe,” Steinmeier told the media. “I can understand, looking at Hungary, that some in Europe are getting impatient… however, it is not my personal approach to show a European member state the door.”
Luxembourg’s Jean Asselborn told Die Welt newspaper that Hungary should be excluded from the bloc because policies like the erection of a razor-wire fence to keep out migrants undermined the EU’s values.
The Budapest government has established a new office on the persecution of Christians in West Asia and, far more controversially, more subtle alleged forms of “discrimination” in Europe.
Zoltan Balog, the minister for human capacities, told CNN: “Today, Christianity has become the most persecuted religion, where out of five people killed out of religious reasons, four of them are Christians. In 81 countries around the world Christians are persecuted and 200 million Christians live in areas where they are discriminated against. Millions of Christian lives are threatened by followers of radical religious ideologies.”
The specialised office aims to raise international awareness of their “untenable situation”, and coordinate humanitarian action. It will also aim to examine the state of Christianity in Europe.
“Our interest not only lies in the Middle East but in forms of discrimination and persecution of Christians all over the world,” Balog added. “It is therefore to be expected that we will keep a vigilant eye on the more subtle forms of persecutions within European borders.”
A 2014 report by the Christianity charity Aid to the Church in Need claimed to have found “worrying” and “worsening” religious freedoms in the UK, Germany, France and the Netherlands. These “threats” mainly came from radical feminists and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender activists that aimed to compel Christian participation in abortion or “sexual morality”, the report said. Some policies allegedly affected Christians’ ability to raise their children in their faith, the report claimed, while it alleged there had been rising number of attacks on European churches.
The Hungary is the first country to establish a special department on the “persecution” of Christians. It has a €3 million budget and is to be overseen by Tamás Török, who was Hungary’s deputy ambassador to Italy.
The decision came after controversial Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Balog attended an annual meeting for Catholic legislators in Frascati, Italy. The group was founded by Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn of Vienna last year.
Orban is a Protestant layman and Balog is a Calvinist pastor. They were the only non-Catholic members of the gathering, whom Pope Francis received in a private audience.