Sunday

27th May 2018

German politicians outraged at Orban's Nazi jibe

German politicians from across the political spectrum have expressed their outrage after Hungary's Viktor Orban compared Angela Merkel's policies to the Nazi invasion ordered by Adolf Hitler.

“The Germans already sent the cavalry once, in the form of tanks,” Orban said in his weekly radio broadcast on Friday (18 May) in reference to the Nazi occupation of 1944.

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“Our request would be that they did not send them again. It wasn't a good idea back then and it didn't work,” Orban added.

He was referring to comments made a day earlier by Chancellor Merkel who in a public debate said she would

"do everything to put Hungary back on track. But we won't be sending in the cavalry right away."

Merkel herself was speaking out against a comment during the same debate by her Social Democrat rival Peer Steinbrueck, who said Hungary's EU voting rights should be suspended due to democratic backsliding.

With a super majority in the Hungarian Parliament, Orban's government has passed a series of constitutional reforms critics say limit the independence of media, judiciary and economy. The EU commission has had several rows with Budapest on the matter.

German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle on Monday during a visit to Belgrade said Orban's remarks are a "regrettable derailment we strongly reject."

The head of the foreign affairs committee in the German Bundestag, Ruprecht Polenz, also criticised the Hungarian leader's words. "Orban increasingly burdens the traditionally good relationship between Germany and Hungary," Spiegel magazine quoted him as saying.

Hitler comparisons have so far been "reserved to Greek protesters", but to have it come from Orban shows an "increasing loss of the sense of reality."

"Orban is driving his country further into isolation," the Christian Democrat MP concluded.

Social Democrat and Green politicians meanwhile have urged the European People's Party (EPP) - to which Orban's Conservative Fidesz party belongs - to take a clear stance against him.

"A debate is due about this in the EPP," said European Parliament chief and Social Democrat member Martin Schulz. His Green colleague Daniel-Cohn Bendit asked "how long they will watch Orban's actions without doing anything?".

Opinion

Time to suspend Orban's EU voting rights

The time has come to react to Viktor Orban's trampling of EU values in Hungary by suspending his voting rights. His own group, the EPP, must get on board, writes Liberal group chief Guy Verhofstadt.

Macron and Orban defend opposing EU visions

Two models - of deeper integration and liberal values, versus a Europe of strong and illiberal nations - will define voters' choices in the EU elections in 2019.

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The dangers of resurgent nationalism in Greece

Virulent nationalism in Greece has been stirred up in the context of austerity and renewed negotiations with Macedonia. Recent attempts by the government to address the inequalities suffered by LGBT persons have also been met with a reactionary backlash.

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Linking EU funds to 'rule of law' is innovative - but vague

Defining what constitutes 'rule of law' violations may be more difficult than the EU Commission proposes, as it tries to link cohesion funds in east Europe to judicial independence. A key question will be who is to 'judge' those judges?

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