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Hungary summons German ambassador over EU minister's anti-Semitism criticism

FILE PHOTO: Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto attends a news conference with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba in Kyiv, Ukraine June 25, 2020. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungary’s foreign ministry has summoned the German ambassador to a Monday meeting to explain remarks by his country’s European Union minister in which he accused Hungary of anti-Semitism, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in a statement on Sunday.

Szijjarto rejected the accusations but did not specify where the comments by Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth were published.

His spokesman, however, told Reuters that Szijjarto was referring to an interview with website t-online.de published late on Friday in which Roth criticised Hungary and Poland for an erosion of democratic culture and also said one aspect that “led to the Article 7 case against Hungary was rampant anti-semitism in Hungary”.

The EU invoked Article 7 of its governing treaty against Hungary in 2018, having invoked the procedure for the first time against Poland in 2017, for flouting the rule of law. The process could lead to the suspension of their EU voting rights if all other capitals agreed.

In the past few years, Hungary’s nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, in power since 2010, has also angered the EU with his harsh anti-immigration stance and a 2017 campaign against U.S. financier George Soros which critics said had anti-Semitic undertones. The government rejected that accusation.

Orban has pledged zero tolerance for anti-Semitism.

Szijjarto said on Sunday that the Jewish community was safe in Hungary, and shrugged off Roth’s remarks, calling on him “to stop the unworthy attacks on the Hungarian people”.

Reporting by Krisztina Than; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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