Viktor Orbán’s adviser resigns after the Hungarian Prime Minister’s “mixed race” speech

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is facing growing international backlash following inflammatory comments about race that led to the resignation of one of his close aides.

In his annual speech in Băile Tușnad, a Romanian town with a large Hungarian community, Orbán warned that his country would no longer become “mixed” like in Western countries. He said it was fine for nations in the Carpathian Basin to mix, but not with “non-Europeans”.

The comments crossed a line for one of her longtime allies, sociologist Zsuzsa Hegedüs, who on Tuesday resigned from her role as social inclusion adviser, calling Orbán’s speech “pure Nazi-worthy text.” of Goebbels”.

Hegedüs said she had grown increasingly uncomfortable with the Hungarian prime minister’s ‘illiberal turn’, with the latest remarks prompting her to end their nearly 20-year friendship, according to media in the country. .

Orbán responded in a statement, saying his government had “a zero-tolerance policy toward anti-Semitism and racism.”

In addition to remarks described as “openly racist” by Hegedüs, Orbán also appeared to mock the Nazi gas chambers when referring to EU gas reduction plans for member states: “I don’t see how this will be applied. — although, as I understand, the past shows us the German know-how on this.

Zsuzsa Hegedüs, a longtime ally of Orbán, resigned in protest at his speech, describing it as “pure Nazi text worthy of Goebbels” © YouTube

Orbán’s comments were deemed “stupid and dangerous” by the International Auschwitz Committee of Holocaust Survivors, which urged European leaders to distance themselves from the Hungarian prime minister. Romania’s foreign minister also condemned the comments and said it was unfortunate that they were made on Romanian soil.

European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans, a former Dutch foreign minister, said on Twitter on Wednesday that “we are all different, our skins are different, our languages, our cultures, our beliefs. And yet we are all part of the same race, the human race. Racism is a poisonous political invention. There should be no room for this in Europe where our strength comes from diversity.

The backlash against Orbán comes as Hungary, which is in the grip of a deep economic downturn, seeks to restore ties with Brussels in order to unlock 15 billion euros in EU pandemic recovery funds. In recent weeks, Orbán had agreed to concessions on fighting corruption and weaning the country off Russian energy imports.

“I can’t imagine this helping Orbán’s case,” a European diplomat said on Wednesday. “Hungary is increasingly isolated among the 27.”

A Hungarian government spokesman sought to play down the scandal, say in a tweet that “the mainstream media elite are getting carried away over some hard lines from Prime Minister Orbán on immigration and assimilation”.

Orbán is due to speak again next week at a rally of American conservatives in Texas.

“Let’s hear the man talk,” Matt Schlapp, president of the Conservative Political Action Conference, told Bloomberg. “We’ll see what he says. And if people disagree with something he says, they should raise it.

Laura T. Thrasher