Hungarians allege Austrian air and river pollution is crossing borders
On Tuesday Hungarian artists, upset about pollution of the Raab River by an Austrian leather factory, gave a concert in Budapest. Around 500 people were there to hear activists claim Austria is doing nothing to prevent the pollution and to urge Hungarians to boycott Austrian products. It's reported even Wiener Schnitzel is off the menu in many Hungarian restaurants - or at the very least - it's no longer called Wiener Schnitzel.
The latest incident to upset Hungarians occurred last week when foam from the Austrian side of the Raab river was seen floating into the Hungarian side. The Hungarian foreign minister Gabor Fodor criticised Austria saying he should have been informed under the terms of an agreement recently signed with his Austrian counterpart. But it's not just Raab river pollution that has Hungarians upset. Plans for an industrial incinerator right next to the Hungarian border in the province of Burgenland are also meeting with complaints that Austria is simply allowing its pollutants to drift, with the winds and the waters, into Hungary. Kerry Skyring spoke to Daniel Kapp, the spokesman for Austria's environment ministry, and asked him if Vienna was failing to live up to its agreements with Budapest on notifying cases of cross-border poluution?
"Austria has not failed to meet its commitments. The mutual agreement outlines a road-map for solving these issues. Of course, we cannot, although we are strongly committed, solve these problems overnight and we are optimistic we will achieve it in the given time frame"
Do you know whether the Raab has been further polluted beyond acceptable limits - can that be confirmed?
"There has been foam on the river Raab again but measures are underway to solve this issue finally."
Can you understand Hungary's impatience over this? They have been complaining about it for many months, even years.
"That is absolutely so and we understand Hungarian impatience and it is in our utmost interest to resolve this to the satisfaction of both sides. The point is we have agreed on a time-frame and as I said it can not be resolved overnight. It is a complex problem and an array of measures have to be taken".
Hungarians complain they have been campaigning for six years to have the pollution stopped. Noemi Nemes is a campaigner for Greenpeace Hungary and says last week's pollution incident shows little progress is being made on solving the problem.
"Well it was perceived in Hungary that the problem of the Raab pollution would be solved very soon because of the agreement between the two ministers but obviously it hasn't been solved and this latest "foaming" is a clear indication that the situation is much worse and the foaming that is going on and the "foaming" that has been going on for six years cannot be solved in a few weeks".
Do you believe Austria is sincere in its efforts (to end the pollution)?
"Well the problem is there was no time-frame. There was the agreement between the two ministers but not a clear deadline by which the problem has to be solved. People are constantly talking about why Austria, which is considered and environmentally friendly country, with environmentally conscious people - why Austria is behaving like that.."
There are calls by activists in Hungary for a boycott of Austrian products and we are hearing that Wiener Schnitzel is off the menu at many restaurants. Can you confirm that?
"I have heard this news but I can't confirm because I have not been to any of these restaurants but there were many initiatives from Hungarian civil society to try and boycott some products of Austria in order to show that this situation must be solved. We can't deal with this anymore. So this is just to show to Austrian politicians to please act immediately".