Romanian president condemns racist comments made by Hungarian PM
Klaus Iohannis issued a scalding condemnation of the racist comments made by Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán during a visit to Transylvania.
“It is a major error and it is inadmissible for a European dignitary to make such statements built on the theory of races, a theory that led to the most terrible catastrophe of the 20th century, the Second World War,” said Iohannis quoted by news.ro.
Speaking at an annual gathering in Tușnad, Transylvania, Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orban argued against the "mixing" of European and non-European races. Orbán argued that the Hungarians were racially pure and that they intended to stay that way.
Orbán’s speech has gathered numerous condemnations in reply. In Hungary, Zsuzsa Hegedüs, one of Viktor Orbán's longest-serving advisors and special envoy for social inclusion, resigned in protest. Several Romanian politicians also noted that such a speech cannot be accepted.
Almost 800 ethnic Hungarian intellectuals in Transylvania also signed an online petition distancing themselves from Orbán’s speech.
“The ideas expressed in Orban's speech this year, ideas rooted in racial prejudice and a long-defunct 'race' theory, are alarming,” the petition says. “We distance ourselves from this speech. There are no human ‘races,’ we are all part of one unitary species: Homo sapiens. The ideas floated by Orbán, which foreshadows the decay of the West, an evolution caused by racial mixing, in contrast to the vitality of the non-racially mixed nation-states of Central and Eastern Europe, are reminiscent of the racist rhetoric that led to World War II and the Holocaust,” the signatories added.
However, Orbán also found defenders in Romania. Kelemen Hunor, leader of UDMR, the party representing ethnic Hungarians in Romania, said that “Orbán hasn’t got any racism within him.”
UDMR is part of the governing coalition in Romania along with the Social Democrats and the National Liberal Party. When asked if UDMR should leave the coalition, president Iohannis said that clarifications are necessary on their part.
“They applauded the speech and the person. There must be an explanation,” said Iohannis. However, the president maintained that the situation should not lead to a crisis for the government.
(Photo source: Presidential Administration of Romania)