- bbc world of news
A member of Viktor Orban’s inner circle has resigned after the Hungarian prime minister spoke out against becoming a “mixed-race people”.
According to local media, Zsuzsa Hegedus, who has known the nationalist Orban for 20 years, described the speech as a “text of pure Nazism”.
The International Committee of Auschwitz Holocaust Survivors called the “stupid and dangerous” speech.
An Orban spokesman said the media had misrepresented the comments.
The speech took place on Saturday in a region of Romania that has a large Hungarian community.
In it, Orban said that European peoples should be free to mix with each other, but that mixing with non-Europeans created a “world of mixed races”.
“We are willing to mingle with each other, but we don’t want to become mestizo peoples“, said.
Opposite of immigration
Orban’s anti-immigration views are well known, but for Hegedus, Saturday’s speech crossed the line.
“I don’t know how he didn’t realize that the speech he gave is a purely Nazi diatribe worthy of Joseph Goebbels“, he wrote in his resignation letter, according to the news website hvg.hu.
Goebbels was the head of Adolf Hitler’s propaganda ministry.
Nick Thorpe correspondent in Budapest
Orban’s comments about race have been harshly criticized by some in Hungary and defended just as vehemently by others.
“Only one race inhabits this earth, Homo Sapiens. And it is single and undivided,” Chief Rabbi Robert Fröhlich commented.
Opposition politicians, decisively defeated by Orban’s Fidesz party in April elections, said his comments were “beyond bounds… unworthy of a European statesman”.
Government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs tried to muffle the growing chorus of condemnation, arguing that the prime minister had been outspoken about the immigration issues and the integration during years.
In the government’s flagship newspaper, Magyar Nemzet, an article praised Orban for defending the idea of a nation against an attempt to mix all nations “into a gray and indistinguishable mass”.
At best, Orban seems confused, sometimes speaking of Hungarians as “the most mixed society,” at other times, seeming to suggest he believes in ethnic purity.
Zsuzsa Hegedus’s resignation is unlikely to have any further repercussions in Hungary.
The party discipline is strict and resignations are almost unheard of.
During his speech, the Hungarian leader also seemed play down the Nazi gas chambers in World War II when he criticized the European Union’s plan to reduce gas demand by 15% by pointing out that “the past shows us the German knowledge about that”.
The largest Jewish group in Hungary condemned the speech and asked for a meeting with Orban.
More than half a million Hungarian Jews were murdered in the last months of World War II, many of them in Auschwitz, Poland.
The International Auschwitz Committee said that his words feed “all the racist and far-right forces in Europe”.
And they reminded Holocaust survivors of the dark times of their persecution.
The Romanian Foreign Minister said that the comments were unacceptable and that was unfortunate to be pronounced on Romanian territory.
Replying by letter to his former adviser, Orban defended his words.
“You know better than anyone that in Hungary, that my government follows a zero tolerance policy for both antisemitism and racism“, wrote.
His spokesman, Zoltan Kovacs, said the mainstream media was “hyperventilating about a couple of hard lines on immigration and integration”, yet had remained silent on the main points of the speech.
About the war in Ukraine
Addressing the war in Ukraine in his speech, Orban argued that Western support for the country had failedthat sanctions against Russia were not working and that a negotiated peace agreement should be the priority.
Viktor Orban won a historic fourth term in April, but his stance on the Russia war has not been in tune with the position of the rest of the EU countries.
Has kept good relations with the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, and he is the only EU leader to openly criticize Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky.
While the rest of the EU agreed to reduce its dependence on Russian gas, Hungary’s foreign minister visited Moscow last week to discuss buying more gas.
budapest currently imports 80% of its gas from Russia.
Despite receiving large amounts of EU funding, the Hungarian government has frequently clashed with Brussels over issues of rule of law, such as freedom of the press and immigration.
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