EU parliament leaders slam Orban for ‘openly racist’ remarks

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The leaders of the European Parliament‘s main parties on Saturday condemned Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban for “openly racist” comments he made about racial mixing.

Orban’s warning last week against creating “peoples of mixed race” was “unacceptable” and breached the values enshrined in EU treaties, the group said in a statement.

A European Parliament spokeswoman said the declaration was adopted on Friday with a “very large” majority.

The parliament leaders also urged the European Commission and the European Council to condemn Orban’s statement “in the strongest terms”.

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, without explicitly mentioning Orban, stressed on Saturday that “all EU member states, including Hungary, have subscribed to global common values” which are “non-negotiable”.

“To discriminate on the basis of race, is trampling on these values. The European Union is built on equality, tolerance, fairness, and justice,” von der Leyen added, in an interview posted on the Slovak news site aktuality.sk.

Earlier this week, a spokesman for the European Commission had said it never commented on statements by European politicians.

Of the EU parliament party leaders, only the right-wing European Conservatives and Reformists Group opposed the decision to condemn Orban’s comments, according to a parliament source.

MEPs from Orban’s nationalist Fidesz party have been unaffiliated with any of the major EU parliament groupings since their split from the traditional right-of-centre European People’s Party.

The Hungarian leader’s remarks sparked widespread backlash outside the offices of the EU, including from the International Auschwitz Committee, while the United States called them “inexcusable” and reminiscent of the Nazi era.

Orban’s government is already under scrutiny for a recent law seen as harming LGBTQ rights in Hungary and for flouting democratic standards over corruption, the independence of the judiciary and the media and public procurement.

Brussels has blocked the release of post-Covid economic recovery funds for Hungary over its failure to respect the rule of law.