Viktor Orbán, the Hungarian PM, has been invited to hold the opening speech of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Texas on 4 August. Further speakers are Donald Trump and Nigel Farage, whom the Hungarian independent paper describes as a British journalist.
Both Farage and Trump have openly shown support for the Hungarian leader. Here is an MSNBC report discussing why US Republicans have such close links with Orban:
Farage, whom Trump introduced at one of his rallies as the most influential person in Europe, has made no secret of supporting Trump for a victory in 2024.
Orbán faces backlash at home and abroad
At the weekend, Orbán faced a massive backlash to a recent speech (sorry, in Hungarian only) held in Romania. One of his longtime advisers called it a “pure Nazi speech” worthy of Joseph Goebbels. Orbán ranted against Islamic immigration arguing that countries in which people of different ethnicities co-exist are “no longer nations.”
According to The Independent, Orbán said:
“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.”
Orbán has expressed similar sentiments in the past years, but the extremism expressed in this particular speech was too much for an advisor who had served him for decades.
“In a resignation letter printed in the Hungarian press, Ms Hegedus, who is Jewish, said that she had been uncomfortable with Hungary’s authoritarian drift for years. The “openly racist” speech in Romania was the final straw.”
The International Auschwitz Committee called Orbán’s speech “stupid and dangerous”. At the same time, they told the European Union to, “make it clear to the world that Mr Orbán has no future in Europe”.
The speech at the Tusvány event drew stark criticism by former Romanian PM, Ludovic Orban, (no relative to Viktor!). Ludovic stressed that he knew Viktor Orbán as a totally different person in the 90s. At that time, he was a liberal, “Euro-Atlantic” politician. Now he is the 5th Russian column in the European Union. He spreads ideas which Ludovic had thought eradicated after the Second World War.
To talk of race and racism in multicultural Europe is a serious contravention against the EU treaties and values which form the basis of the Union. Respect and recognition of the rights of national and religious minorities is one of those values. Ludovic thinks there is a mandate for the EU to withdraw Hungarian voting rights as Orbán is pursuing anti-European and anti-EU policies.
Scientists in Hungary against Orbán
As reported in the Hungarian independent media 24.hu, reactions in Hungary include a demand signed by 102 scientists that Orbán withdraw his statements and apologise. Janos Kertész, member of the Hungarian Academy of Science, gave an interview on online radio station Spirit FM where he stated the academics felt it was impossible to leave such horrific statements unchallenged.
He knew that there would be no apology forthcoming but it was vital that the petition served as a record that there are rational, thinking people left in the country. Kertész hoped it would also be an example for people who agreed that something needed to be done. He said (my translation from Hungarian):
“The most appropriate step would be for [Orbán] to resign but I obviously don’t count on that happening. But the least is to expect for him to withdraw the statements and to apologise not just to those who he hurt with his speech but to the whole nation.”
In Kertész’s view, Orbán in his speech planned to manipulate public opinion plus distract attention from the serious recession the country finds itself in. He is sure that this was a well thought out action. Finally, he also added his astonishment at the silence by the leaders of the Christian churches. Could it have something to do with Orbán doubling the government budget to support Christian religions and religious instructions?
This is in keeping with the PM’s declared policy of Christian values and family life. The Bible he reads must have some major pages missing. The ones about brotherly love and neighbours … (Note: When looking at statistics of religions in Hungary, followers have dwindled considerably for the two main religions of Roman Catholicism and Evangelicals. Muslims don’t even appear as a minority religion.)
Interestingly, one of the sponsors of the Texas event is a Hungarian far-right think tank ‘Centre for Fundamental Rights’ which was involved in the Budapest CPAC event. I cannot help thinking how similar this organisation is to the ERG and other London Tufton Street based government-funded think tanks.
Orbán in Texas
It seems that the messages of protests against Orbán have clearly not reached the organisers of CPAC Texas. Other speakers besides Orbán are former President Donald Trump, Sen Ted Cruz, Rep Lauren Bobert and television personality Sean Hannity. Orbán will be accompanied by his economic and foreign minister Szijjártó. and his political director Balâzs Orbán a lawyer and lecturer. I could not find out if he is a relative but there is a lot of evidence of Orbán’s direct family being involved in businesses which obtain government support. But that is another article waiting to be written.
EU reaction to Orbán in Texas?
I ask myself how the EU should or could react to this new blatant show of support for and by the US far right. And will the UK Government, whoever is in charge, condemn this newest directly racist speech by Orbán?
For me and my family it would be a significant blow if one of the measures the EU takes against Hungary is to take away their membership. Both my brother and I took advantage of the fact that we were born in Budapest and applied for Hungarian passports. That was our way of retaining EU citizenship rights after our British passports lost the privileges after Brexit. We would be holding two non-EU passports … just our luck!