Sweden's ambassador to Hungary has received protests from the Hungarian government following Social Security Minister Annika Strandhäll's incendiary tweet against Budapest's policy to completely exempt mothers of four from taxes.
Strandhäll wrote that Prime Minister Viktor Orban's demand for "more genuine Hungarian children" was offensive, "reeked of the 1930s" and effectively offset the benefits of feminism.
"What is happening in Hungary is alarming. Now Orban wants more 'genuine' Hungarian children to be born. The policy reeks of the 30s. A right-wing populist you need smokescreens for what this type of policy does to the independence women have been struggling for", Strandhäll tweeted.
Det som sker i Ungern är alarmerande. Nu vill Orban att fler ”äkta” ungerska barn föds. Politiken osar 30-tal och som högerpopulist behöver man skapa dimridåer för vad den här typen av politik gör med den självständighet kvinnor kämpat för. https://t.co/xWlXrE3Ch5— Annika Strandhäll (@strandhall) 12 февраля 2019 г.
The not-so-well-concealed parallel to Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler's politics, however, made Hungary see red. Following Strandhäll's lunge, Sweden's ambassador to Hungary Niclas Trouvé was summoned in protest, Swedish Radio reported.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto called Strandhäll's statement "unacceptable" and noted a big difference between Sweden and Hungary in terms of politics.
"Hungary spends money on families, while Sweden spends it on migrants", Szijjarto said, as quoted by the news outlet Nyheter Idag.
Strandhäll's Hungarian counterpart Family Minister Katalin Novák published an open letter in the daily newspaper Magyar Hírlap demanding an official apology.
"Comparing Hungary to Nazi Germany is unacceptable. I strongly reject these allegations, in our country's name", Novák wrote. "It is also unusual and unfriendly for a member of one European government to reproach another European government for its domestic policy in such a manner and style, without informing about it first and using traditional diplomatic channels."
Viktor Orban's call for "Hungarian children" didn't resonate well with the Swedish press, either. Sydsvenskan's columnist Sofia Nerbrand wrote that Orban "should be ashamed" of steps to stimulate childbirth in Hungary.
"Viktor Orban's stated goal is that the Hungarian people will increase with the help of white Hungarian offsprings, not migrants," Nerbrand wrote, calling this approach 'unsavoury'. "Rhetoric and politics that put one's own people first and shut out the others should have no place in today's Europe."
Among the EU member states, Sweden and Hungary are polar opposites with respect to immigration policy. Sweden, with a population of about 10 million and a total fertility rate of 1.85 births per women, has taken in over 200,000 migrants since the onset of Europe's immigration crisis and pursues some of Europe's most generous immigration policies. Hungary, which has a similar population and a total fertility rate of 1.45 births per woman, has effectively opposed refugees from the Middle East and has stood out by building a wall along its border with Serbia and Croatia, effectively throttling illegal immigration.
Peter Szijjarto brushed aside Brussels' criticism of Budapest's hardline immigration policy by saying that immigration was "not a human right".
Hungary's fertility rate is below the EU average, whereas Sweden's is among the highest, partly due to the influx of immigrants from countries with higher fertility rates. Unlike many fellow EU member states, which rely on immigration to plug the gap, Viktor Orban has claimed that "immigration is surrender".