Zsuzsa Hegedus, who has served as an adviser to Orban for two decades, resigned on Tuesday over what she called Orban’s “illiberal turn”, calling his comments in Romania on Saturday “a pure Nazi text worthy of (Nazi propagandist) Goebbels.” her resignation letter published by the Hungarian edition of HVG.
He was also condemned by the International Committee of Auschwitz following comments in the same speech that were interpreted as a joke about the use of gas chambers against Jews in Nazi Germany.
Orban told the crowd that Europeans do not want to associate with people from outside the continent.
“That’s why we have always fought: we are ready to mix with each other, but we don’t want to become mixed-race people,” Orban said.
He warned that “Islamic civilization” was “constantly moving towards Europe” and that in the future “those we don’t want to let in will have to be stopped at [Hungary’s] western borders”, regardless of the country’s membership in the Schengen area or open borders across 26 European countries.
Hegedus, one of Orbán’s closest aides, said the speech went against her values and rendered her position untenable. She added that Orban’s authoritarian tendencies during his 12-year tenure as Hungary’s prime minister had previously undermined her support.
“You can’t seriously accuse me of racism after 20 years of working together. You know best that in Hungary my government has a zero-tolerance policy for both anti-Semitism and racism,” Orban said in response, according to a letter posted on Twitter by his political director, Balasz Orban.
But the leader’s speech provoked an angry reaction across Europe: critics of his regime are demanding that EU leaders openly condemn the right-wing prime minister.
“Orbán still has a seat at the European Council table and has the power of veto to undermine European sovereignty… Untenable, unacceptable, un-European,” wrote Guy Verhofstadt, former Belgian prime minister and senior member of the European Parliament. Twitter.
“Orban is carefully cultivating a more attractive image in Brussels and abroad. Many conservatives who love to pose with him would never publicly support such far-right extremist rantings,” Katalin Cech, a Hungarian MEP, added in a Twitter post.
In another part of the speech, Czech and others accused Orban of downplaying the use of gas chambers by the Nazi regime during the Holocaust.
CNN has contacted the Hungarian government for comment.
In a statement Tuesday, the International Committee of Auschwitz denounced Orban’s remarks as “stupid and dangerous.” They said Auschwitz survivors and others were “alarmed and appalled” by his speech.
Throughout his tenure, Orbán observed the process of backsliding on democracy and made comments about migrants and multiculturalism that were denounced by his European counterparts.
But Orban has gained broad support among some American conservatives and is still due to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Texas next month despite his Saturday appearances.