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Hungary’s Orban defends ‘cultural point of view’ in race

#Hungarys #Orban #defends #cultural #point #view #race

Hungary’s nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Thursday defended his comments against the creation of “mixed-race peoples,” saying they represent a “cultural” stance, drawing a sharp rebuke from Washington.

“It sometimes happens that I speak in a way that can be misunderstood…the position I take is a cultural…point of view,” Orban told reporters during a visit to neighboring Austria.

Orban unleashed a storm of criticism after warning against mixing with “non-Europeans” in a speech in Romania’s Transylvania region, home to a Hungarian community, on Saturday.

The United States on Thursday denounced the comments as “inexcusable.”

State Department spokesman Ned Price read reporters a statement by US envoy against anti-Semitism Deborah Lipstadt, who said “rhetoric of this kind is inexcusable,” some “75 years after the Holocaust.”

Decades after the end of the Holocaust, “it is inexcusable for a leader to belittle Nazi mass murder,” Lipstadt said.

Price added that the United States and its allies around the world are united by “common values” along with interests.

“The remarks we heard from Prime Minister Orban do not reflect the shared values ​​that bind the United States to Hungary,” Price said.

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer earlier said in a joint press conference with Orban that the issue had been “resolved amicably and in full clarity”, adding that his country “strongly condemns… any form of racism or anti-Semitism”.

– ‘Nazi Text’ –

The International Auschwitz Committee has called on the European Union – and Nehammer in particular – to distance itself from “Orban’s racist overtones”.

Austria is the first EU country to host Orban for talks since he won a fourth consecutive mandate in April.

Alongside the race, the two leaders discussed migration and energy security amid tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Vienna sees itself “as an honest broker” and does not want to ignore Hungary, an Austrian official told the AFP news agency on condition of anonymity.

Representatives of the Jewish community sounded alarm after Orban, a hard-line conservative known for his anti-migrant policies and virulent rhetoric, said that “we don’t want to become mixed-race peoples”.

The 59-year-old also appeared to be alluding to the Nazi German gas chambers when he criticized a Brussels plan to cut Europe’s gas needs by 15 percent after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Hungary was the only EU member to oppose the plan, which passed a majority this week.

An adviser to Orban, Zsuzsa Hegedus, resigned on Tuesday, criticizing his speech as “pure Nazi text”.

In response, Orban stressed his government’s “zero-tolerance policy on anti-Semitism and racism,” according to a published letter.

“I am proud of the results Hungary has achieved against racism in recent years,” Orban told reporters on Wednesday.

Both Orban and Nehammer said they would not support an embargo on Russian gas, on which their countries depend heavily, with Orban calling such an embargo a “wall”.

“My advice to the European Union is not to hit this wall,” said the Hungarian, who recently criticized the EU’s sanctions policy against Russia as “Europe is shooting itself in the lungs”.

He added that he would like Brussels to come up with a new “strategy that is good for Ukrainians, good for us, good for the European economy and good for households who have to pay the price for energy”.

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