Hungary’s Orban Says Anti-Immigration Views Based on Culture Amid Scandal Over ‘Mixed-Race’ Remarks
19:06 GMT 28.07.2022 (Updated: 19:13 GMT 28.07.2022)
© AP Photo / Ronald ZakHungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, file photo.
© AP Photo / Ronald Zak
The United States and the European Union accused the Hungarian prime minister of spreading hate and bigotry over his comments in a speech Saturday in which he said that he did not want Hungary to become “peoples of mixed-race.”
Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary has stuck to his anti-immigration guns, telling reporters that his comments about seeking to prevent Hungary from becoming a “mixed-race” peoples was meant in the “cultural, civilizational standpoint,” not the racial sense.
“I am the only politician in the EU who stands for an openly anti-immigration policy,” Orban said, speaking at a news conference alongside Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer in Vienna on Thursday. “This is not a race issue for us, this is a cultural issue,” he said.
Orban said “it happens sometimes that I say something in a way that can be misunderstood,” but reiterated that the position he stands for “is a cultural, civilizational stance.”
The Hungarian leader got into hot water on Saturday after giving a speech in Romania’s Transylvania region in which he rejected what he referred to as Western Europe’s “mixed-race world,” and said that while “we are willing to mix with one another…we do not want to become peoples of mixed race.”
The comments prompted officials from the US, the EU and Jewish groups to pile on to Orban to accuse him of racism and sowing hate.
On Wednesday, the US embassy in Budapest tweeted its condemnation of “all ideologies, policies and rhetoric that give oxygen to the doctrines of hate and division,” and said that “human dignity and equality know no national boundaries.” The embassy’s sentiments were echoed by European Commission vice president Frans Timmermans, who tweeted that “racism is a poisonous political invention” that should have “no place” in Europe.
On Monday, veteran Orban ally and advisor Zsuzsa Hegedus resigned and accused the prime minister of delivering a “diatribe worthy of [Nazi propaganda minister] Joseph Goebbels.” Orban responded by telling Hegedus that she knows “better than anyone that in Hungary, my government follows a zero-tolerance policy on both anti-Semitism and racism.”
Government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs accused critics of “hyperventilating about a couple of tough lines about immigration and assimilation,” and said Orban’s words were “misinterpreted” by people who do not “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.”
The conservative prime minister has been criticized by Brussels and by liberal groups for much of his tenure since becoming prime minister in 2010. During the 2015 European migrant crisis, Orban’s Hungary and other Eastern European countries rejected the resettlement of hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees coming from Syria, Afghanistan and other countries torn apart by NATO warmongering.
The ‘racism’ row is the latest line of attack against Orban, who is already somewhat of a black sheep among Western countries over his rejection of tough sanctions against Moscow amid the Ukraine crisis. Last week, the prime minister compared the West’s sanctions strategy to “a car with flat tires on all four wheels,” and said that the restrictions did not destabilize Russia, but instead put Europe in a grave political and economic crisis which has so far caused the resignations of four governments.