The United States denounced as “inexcusable” remarks by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban warning against creating “peoples of mixed race.”
U.S. envoy against anti-Semitism Deborah Lipstadt said she was “deeply alarmed” by the right-wing nationalist prime minister’s “use of rhetoric that clearly evokes Nazi racial ideology.”
Decades after the end of the Holocaust, it is “inexcusable for a leader to make light of Nazi mass murder,” Lipstadt said.
State Department spokesman Ned Price read Lipstadt’s statement to reporters during a briefing on July 28. Price added that Orban’s remarks “are not reflective of the shared values that tether the United States to Hungary.”
Orban triggered a wave of scathing criticism after he warned on July 23 against mixing with “non-Europeans” in a speech in Romania’s Transylvania region, home to a sizable ethnic Hungarian minority.
He defended his comments earlier on July 28, saying they represented a “cultural, civilizational standpoint.”
“It happens sometimes that I speak in a way that can be misunderstood…the position that I represent is a cultural, civilizational standpoint,” Orban told a joint press conference with Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer during a one-day visit to neighboring Austria.
In his July 23 speech at Baile Tusnad Summer University, Orban said: “We move, we work elsewhere, we mix within Europe, but we don’t want to be a mixed race,” a “multi-ethnic” people who would mix with “non-Europeans.”
During the same speech, Orban also seemed to allude to the gas chambers used by the Nazis in Germany when criticizing a Brussels plan to reduce European gas demand by 15 percent following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“For example, there is the latest proposal from the EU Commission, which says that everyone should be obliged to reduce their gas consumption by 15 percent. I don’t see how that should be enforced, although there is German know-how for this, from the past, I think,” Orban told the thousands-strong audience.
Hungary was the only EU member to oppose the gas-reduction plan, which passed on a majority vote this week.
A longtime adviser to Orban, Zsuzsa Hegedus, resigned on July 26, slamming Orban’s speech as “a pure Nazi text,” while Jewish community representatives voiced alarm.
Referring to Orban’s speech as “stupid and dangerous,” the International Auschwitz Committee 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 on July 26.
More than half a million Hungarian Jews were systematically exterminated during the Nazi Holocaust in World War II.
Heubner called on the EU and specifically on Austria’s Nehammer to make a stand ahead of Orban’s visit and distance themselves from “Orban’s racist undertones.”
Nehammer said on July 28 that the issue had been “resolved…amicably and in all clarity,” adding his country “strongly condemned…any form of racism or anti-Semitism.”
Austria is the first EU country to host Orban for talks since he won a fourth straight mandate in an April landslide.
The Hungarian premier has in the past targeted migrants from Africa and the Middle East, as well as NGOs that support them, restricting the right to seek asylum and putting up barriers at borders.
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