RRomania recalled its ambassador in Vienna for consultations indefinitely on Friday. The government in Bucharest expressly resorted to this harsh measure, which is unusually harsh among EU partners, as a “political gesture” to counteract criticism of Austria’s veto against Schengen accession of Romania and Bulgaria. The Austrian Minister for Europe, Karoline Edtstadler, rejected the criticism: the veto was not directed against the two member states, but “against a system that is currently not working”.
However, the Austrian Federal President Alexander was also critical Van der Bellen. He “extremely” regrets Austria’s veto, which Vienna and the Netherlands had lodged at the EU Council of Interior Ministers. Austria is in an extremely difficult situation due to the influx of refugees and migrants, said Van der Bellen on Friday. “But unfortunately I have to admit that I don’t see the connection, the connection between this problem and the Schengen accession of Romania and Bulgaria,” he said.
Hungary criticizes the West’s alleged silence
Criticism was particularly loud in Romania. The media called on citizens to boycott Austrian products and to forgo skiing holidays in Austria. However, representatives of governments that otherwise insist on restrictive measures against migration also expressed their criticism. Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi spoke of a “sad day for the EU” and a “disappointing meeting” on Thursday evening. At the meeting of EU interior ministers, he “witnessed the incomprehensible and unjustified humiliation of two countries like Bulgaria and Romania,” which actually had all the prerequisites for being included in the Schengen area.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó was also disappointed that both countries “deserved” Schengen membership. Szijjarto also criticized the “liberal mainstream” media, “Brussels bureaucrats” and “liberal government ministers” for remaining silent on the Austrian veto, while Hungary was constantly met with “vocal” criticism. “If a Central European country vetoes, it’s the end of the world and the destruction of European unity, while a Western European veto is fine,” he said.
Representatives of the Austrian governing party ÖVP sharply rejected the criticism of Vienna’s position. Such statements were directed “against people’s security interests,” said ÖVP General Secretary Christian Stocker. There was no alternative to the veto against the Schengen accession of Romania and Bulgaria due to the security situation. As long as the Schengen zone does not work and a large number of illegal migrants come to Austria via these two countries in particular, they cannot be part of a Schengen expansion, said Stocker, pointing out that even the social democratic opposition had supported Austria’s veto. Europe Minister Edtstadler (ÖVP) said without Bucharest to be expressly mentioned: “To meet Austria’s security policy concerns by announcing economic and bilateral consequences is anti-European and must be strictly rejected.”