BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — One of the closest associates of Prime Minister Viktor Orban has resigned after the leader said in a recent speech that Hungary was fighting against Europe becoming a “mixed race” society.
Orban also said that countries with largescale migration from outside of Europe “are no longer nations.”
Zsuzsa Hegedus compared Orban's rhetoric to the kind of language used in Nazi Germany.
Her response stands as a rare rebuke from within the governing ranks of Hungary’s leader, who has long been accused by the European Union of eroding democratic institutions and norms.
Hegedus, who has worked with Orban for the past 20 years, said in a resignation letter that Orban's language was “pure Nazi" speech.
“I am sincerely sorry that I have to end a relationship due to such a shameful position," Hegedus said in the letter, which was carried by the Hungarian media on Tuesday. “I was left with no other choice.”
In his speech, which he made last Saturday, Orban spoke of two parts of Europe.
“There is a world in which European peoples are mixed together with those arriving from outside Europe,” he said in Baile Tusnad, a majority ethnic Hungarian city in Romania. “Now, that is a mixed-race world.”
In what he described as “our world,” Orban said “people from within Europe mix with one another."
“This is why we have always fought: we are willing to mix with one another, but we do not want to become peoples of mixed-race,” Orban said.
Orban also said: “Migration has split Europe in two – or I could say that it has split the West in two. One half is a world where European and non-European peoples live together. These countries are no longer nations: they are nothing more than a conglomeration of peoples.”
While he is known for anti-migration comments and his criticism of Western liberal values, Saturday's speech sparked a fresh wave of outrage from the opposition in Hungary and throughout Europe.
Criticism, however, from within Orban's closest circle, has been very rare so far. The Hungarian prime minister and his conservative Fidesz party hold a comfortable majority and have sought to curb critical voices.
Hegedus told Orban that his comments were unacceptable even by the standards of “the most bloodthirsty racist."
“I don’t know how you didn’t notice that you were presenting a pure Nazi text worthy of Goebbels," she wrote, referring to Joseph Goebbels, the chief Nazi propagandist under Adolf Hitler.
"I cannot dispense with it this time, even for the sake of our nearly 20-year friendship,” she added.
Hungary's hvg.hu news portal said Hegedus also sent a copy of her resignation letter to Hungary’s chief rabbi, Robert Frolich, who also criticized Orban’s remarks.
Orban accepted Hegedus' resignation but dismissed her criticism in a response letter.
“You can’t be serious about accusing me of racism after 20 years of working together," he said. "You know best that my government follows a policy of zero tolerance when it comes to anti-Semitism and racism in Hungary.”
Orban will travel to the U.S. next week to address a gathering of conservative activists. Orban has become a hero to many on the American right for his push against immigration and LGBTQ rights.
The Associated Press