Government spox: PM's words 'misinterpreted'

Holocaust survivors call out Hungary’s Orban for ‘stupid and dangerous’ race speech

International Auschwitz Committee says Hungarian premier’s remarks, in which he decried interracial mixing, are reminiscent of ‘dark times’

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban acknowledges cheering supporters during an election night rally in Budapest, Hungary, on April 3, 2022. (Petr David Josek/AP)
Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban acknowledges cheering supporters during an election night rally in Budapest, Hungary, on April 3, 2022. (Petr David Josek/AP)

BUDAPEST, Hungary — Jewish community representatives on Tuesday voiced alarm after Hungarian leader Viktor Orban spoke out against creating “peoples of mixed-race.”

In a speech in Romania’s Transylvania region, which has a large Hungarian community, the 59-year-old ultra-conservative prime minister criticized mixing with “non-Europeans.”

Terming Orban’s speech “stupid and dangerous,” the International Auschwitz Committee, which represents Holocaust survivors, called on the EU to continue to distance itself from “Orban’s racist undertones and to make it clear to the world that a Mr. Orban has no future in Europe.”

The speech reminds Holocaust survivors “of the dark times of their own exclusion and persecution,” the organization’s vice-president Christoph Heubner said in a statement sent to AFP.

Heubner called specifically on Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer to make a stand when he hosts Orban on an official visit to Vienna on Thursday.

“We do not want to become peoples of mixed-race,” Orban said on Saturday.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban visits the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City on July 20, 2018. (AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana)

Orban, known for his anti-migrant policy, has made similar remarks in the past but without using the Hungarian term for “race,” according to experts.

Government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said Orban’s speech had been “misinterpreted” by those who “clearly don’t understand the difference between the mixing of different ethnic groups that all originate in the Judeo-Christian cultural sphere, and the mixing of peoples from different civilizations.”

In his speech, Orban also seemed to allude to the gas chambers of the German Nazi regime when criticizing Brussels’ plan to reduce European gas demand by 15 percent.

“I do not see how it will be enforced -– although, as I understand it, the past shows us German know-how on that,” he said.

Hungary’s Jewish community has also slammed the speech.

“There is only one race on this Planet: the Homo Sapiens,” chief rabbi Robert Frolich wrote on Facebook.

Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Lucian Aurescu (L) talks with Slovakian Minister for Foreign and European Affairs Ivan Korcok (C) and Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau during a Foreign Affairs Council meeting at the EU headquarters in Brussels on July 12, 2021. (John Thys/ AFP)

And Orban advisor Zsuzsa Hegedus handed in her resignation over the “shameful position,” calling the speech “a pure Nazi text,” according to news outlet HVG.

Bogdan Aurescu, foreign minister of fellow EU member Romania, said Orban’s “ideas” were “unacceptable.”

A spokesman for the European Commission said it never commented on statements by European politicians.

“What’s clear is that the EU has a certain number of values which are enshrined in the treaties and it implements policies in line with these values and these treaty articles,” spokesman Eric Mamer told reporters.

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