Romania recalled its ambassador in Vienna for consultations indefinitely on Friday.

The government in Bucharest expressly used this unusually sharp measure among EU partners as a "political gesture" to express criticism of the Austrian veto against Romania's and Bulgaria's accession to the Schengen. The Austrian Minister for European Affairs, Karoline Edtstadler, rejected the criticism: the veto is not directed against the two Member States, but "against a system that is currently not working".

Stephen Lowenstein

Political correspondent based in Vienna.

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However, the Austrian Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen was also critical.

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 explicitly mentioning Bucharest: