Hungary’s Viktor Orbán faces growing backlash over ‘race mixing’ comments

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán continued to face a backlash Monday from other politicians and religious groups over his controversial remarks over the weekend denouncing “mixed race” nations.

In a speech at a summer event in Romania on Saturday, the Hungarian far-right prime minister said migration has split Europe and the West in two, arguing that countries where European and non-European people mingle “are no longer nations: they are nothing more than a conglomeration of peoples.”

“In the Carpathian Basin, we are not mixed race,” Orbán said, referring to a region shared by Romania and Hungary. “We are willing to mix with one another, but we do not want to become mixed race.”

The comments sparked condemnation from religious groups, with Hungary’s largest Jewish organization saying on Monday it had called for a meeting with Orbán, while the Central European branch of the American Jewish Committee warned his words recalled “dangerous ideologies in history.”

Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu on Monday slammed Orbán’s statements as “unacceptable.”

“It is regrettable that such ideas are propagated from the territory of Romania, in the complex global context that we all have to face, especially since our official positions are different from these theses,” Aurescu told news site Digi24. “It is clear that we cannot agree with them.”

Former Hungarian Prime Minister and opposition leader Ferenc Gyurcsány called Orbán a “tragedy,” while Romanian MEP Alin Mituța of the Renew Europe group said the speech was “purely delusional and dangerous.”

In his speech, Orbán also criticized Western countries’ military support for Ukraine against Russia. He called for a renewed focus on peace talks between Kyiv and Moscow instead of sanctioning Russia and giving weapons to Ukraine.

The Hungarian government has developed a close relationship with the Kremlin over the past decade, and while Budapest has signed off on successive packages of EU sanctions against Moscow since the war started, Hungary also blocked a sixth package of penalties for weeks in a bid to water down the measures.

Aurescu said “Romania does not share these inappropriate views [about the war], which we distance ourselves from, because they affect European solidarity regarding action in support of Ukraine.”