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“We are not a mixed race,” Orbán tells supporters during his annual speech, before heading to CPAC Texas
Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban is facing backlash after a speech arguing that Europeans should not become people of 'mixed race'. Orban held his annual speech in Băile Tuşnad, Romania, where he spoke about racial purity among Europeans. This year's event (a Summer University often referred to as 'Tusványos') was the first since the coronavirus pandemic started. Băile Tuşnad is where Orbán usually assesses current political events and sets the tone for future communication.
When Orbán started his speech, leader of Romanian nationalist Calea Neamului Mihai Tîrnoveanu and another individual held up a poster that read "Ceva este etern: Transilvania, pământ românesc!" meaning “Something is eternal: Transylvania is Romanian land!” Orban supporters quickly gathered around them and hid the message with umbrellas. The two protesters were escorted out of the event.
According to Orban, the next decade will be the 'decade of peril, uncertainty, and war'. He spoke about the ‘cracks’ he sees on the ‘previously unshakeable pillars of Western civilization’ - naming Covid, the war in Ukraine, and that some world leaders are working on 'reorganizing our lives into blocks' - similarly to the cold war times.
Orbán named demographic issues the most crucial challenge Hungary has to tackle. The Hungarian Prime Minister said those countries where Europeans and ‘non-Europeans’ live together are ‘no longer nations.’ “Around 2050, the final demographic transition will be complete (...) on that side of the continent, with people of non-European origin rising above 50 percent in big cities” he added.
Another issue that Orbán analyzed in detail was 'migration' - “we can call that population exchange or flooding,” he said. The nationalist leader bashed Hungarian-born billionaire and philanthropist George Soros, who 'with forces in Brussels is still trying to force migration' on Hungary.
The Prime Minister said it is the 'internationalist left's ideological trick to say that the European population is already mixed race'. Orbán called it a 'sham’ and said, '[in the Carpathian Basin] we are not a mixed race. (...) We are willing to mix with one other, but we do not want to become a mixed race'.
Opposition politicians were outraged by Orbán’s statements. Momentum MEP Katalin Cseh took to Twitter, saying: “To all 'mixed race' people in Hungary - whatever this senseless racist outburst means. Your skin color may be different, you may come from Europe or beyond—you are one of us, and we are proud of you. Diversity strengthens the nation, not weakens it.”
Romanian MEP Alin Mituța also criticized Orbán's comments on racial purity "Speaking about race or ethnic 'purity', especially in such a mixed region such as Central and Eastern Europe is purely delusional and dangerous. And so is Mr. Orban," he tweeted.
Next week Orbán is due to travel to Dallas, where he will give an opening speech at CPAC Texas.
Orbán’s long-time advisor, Zsuzsa Hegedus resigns
Zsuzsa Hegedüs, who has been an advisor to Orban for two decades, has resigned from her post as the Prime Minister's special envoy for social inclusion following his 'race mixing' comments. Hegedüs's resignation letter was first made public by the Hungarian news outlet HVG, in which she said
“I sincerely regret that such a disgraceful stance has forced me to sever a relationship that - although increasingly difficult for me to manage since your illiberal turn- seemed sustainable in short term. However, after a speech that goes against all my fundamental values, I have no choice (...) because of what you said in Tusnádfürdő.
The sociologist stated that Orban's speech in Băile Tuşnad strongly resembled Nazi speeches from the 30s. "I don't know how you did not notice that you said a pure Nazi speech worthy of Goebbels, compared to the previous anti-immigrant anti-European [tone]," Hegedüs wrote. "Even after nearly 20 years of friendship, I cannot overlook it this time."
Orbán’s office published his reply to Hegedüs in which he accepted her resignation.
“You can’t be serious about accusing me of racism after 20 years of working together. You know better than anyone that in Hungary, my government follows a zero-tolerance policy on both antisemitism and racism,” he wrote in his letter.
Hungarian PM says his words can be 'ambiguous', during press conference with Klaus Nehammer
In Vienna, during his first public event since the controversial speech, Orban said he can sometimes express himself 'in an ambiguous way.' During a press conference with Austrian Chancellor Klaus Nehammer, he stressed that Hungary has a zero-tolerance policy on racism.
“We are in full agreement on the issue of anti-Semitism and racism. I think what the Austrian Chancellor thinks. (...) We are proud of what Hungary has achieved in the fight against racism,” the Hungarian Prime Minister said. "As you all know, I’m the only openly anti-immigrant politician. (...)I never beat around the bush. I have a clear, direct stance. (...) I don’t want Hungary to become an immigrant country. It is not a question of race for us but cultural differences.”