cloudy.png
Saturday December 14th, 2019 10:49AM

Hungary's leader calls EU parliament critics 'useful idiots'

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

BERLIN (AP) — Hungary's populist prime minister described members of a European Union political group who want his party expelled as "useful idiots," saying in an interview published Sunday they are playing into the hands of left-wing opponents.

Discussion over whether Prime Minister Viktor Orban's Fidesz party should remain part of the center-right European People's Party intensified after the Hungarian government launched a public ad campaign last month opposing the positions of EU leaders on migration.

Critics see anti-Semitic undertones in the billboards, posters, print and television ads that carry images of Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

By suggesting that Soros influences European Union policies on mass migration, some of those offended by the campaign say it evokes Nazi-era propaganda that portrayed Jews as puppet-masters and international enemies.

Orban said in an interview with Germany's Welt newspaper that EU parliament members who want Fidesz kicked out of the European People's Party were "useful idiots" for the left, using an expression commonly attributed to Lenin.

"While they believe they're fighting in a spiritual struggle, in fact they're serving the power interests of others — indeed, of our opponents," Orban said.

Orban said Hungarians don't consider the posters anti-Semitic.

"I can't do anything about the fact that George Soros is a Hungarian of Jewish origin," he added. Soros has been the target of various Hungarian government smear campaigns in the past few years.

The European People's Party is the largest trans-national political group in the European Parliament. It was founded to represent Christian Democrats.

Some of Fidesz's fellow members, including parties from Belgium, Portugal, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Luxembourg and Greece, have fiercely criticized Hungary's campaign. The ads follow years of grumbling within the group over Orban's efforts to build an "illiberal state."

The European Parliament voted in September to launch a sanctioning process over the Hungarian government's perceived shortcomings regarding the rule of law and European values. The procedure could lead to Hungary losing its voting rights in the EU.

In his interview with Welt, Orban seemed to offer a possible compromise, which on closer inspection hardly changed his position on the migration policy campaign.

He told the newspaper that government ads against Juncker would soon be withdrawn. However, he said Fidesz would be launching its own campaign, with European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans replacing the EU chief.

Timmermans is the lead candidate of the Party of European Socialists to succeed Juncker after May's European Parliament election. He has been highly critical of Orban, and Orban has repeatedly expressed his disdain for the Dutch politician.

The European People's Party candidate seeking to succeed Juncker, Manfred Weber, tweeted in response to Orban's interview that the Hungarian leader was "following the wrong political path, particularly when it comes to style or fundamental questions about the democratic order."

Weber linked to his interview with Germany's Der Spiegel magazine, published Friday, in which he said "Orban badly damaged the EPP" with the Soros poster campaign.

In the interview, he said Orban had a "weak" approach that relies on "scaremongering" instead of persuasive advocacy.

"I expect him to apologize and put an end to the poster campaign," Weber said in the interview. "Beyond that, we cannot simply return to business as usual....We will take concrete steps very soon."

He did not say whether he'd support the removal of Fidesz from the EPP, but told Spiegel "all options are on the table."

"Enough is enough," Weber said. "That is our message."

___

Pablo Gorondi reported from Budapest, Hungary.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, AP World News, AP Elections - Campaigns
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
APNewsBreak: Man arrested in California blast that killed ex
The FBI says a California man was arrested Sunday in connection with an explosion that killed his ex-girlfriend at her day spa last year
7:09PM ( 7 minutes ago )
Defending Iditarod champ remains self-proclaimed 'goofball'
Defending Iditarod champion Joar Leifseth Ulsom says success hasn't changed him
6:58PM ( 19 minutes ago )
Hungary's leader calls EU parliament critics 'useful idiots'
Hungary's populist prime minister says members of a European Parliament group calling for his party's expulsion are playing into the hands of left-wing opponents
6:55PM ( 21 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Adviser says Trump 'gave nothing away' in North Korea talks
President Donald Trump's national security adviser is portraying the president's meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as a success despite the lack of an agreement providing for the verifiable dismantling of the North's nuclear sites
6:28PM ( 49 minutes ago )
On Selma anniversary, Booker calls for new fight for justice
Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker says anniversary of infamous "Bloody Sunday" attack is a time to recommit to fight for justice
6:12PM ( 1 hour ago )
Senate seems to have votes to reject Trump's wall move
Opponents of President Donald Trump's declaration of a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border appear to have enough Senate votes to reject his move, now that Republican Rand Paul of Kentucky has said he can't go along with the White House
5:52PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Democratic presidential candidates marking Selma anniversary
Several Democratic White House hopefuls are visiting one of America's seminal civil rights sites to pay homage to that legacy and highlight their own connections to the movement
3:07PM ( 4 hours ago )
Hungary's Orban: European party opponents 'useful idiots'
Hungary's populist prime minister says members of a European Parliament group calling for his party's expulsion are playing into the hands of left-wing opponents
2:14PM ( 5 hours ago )
2 Estonian parties in tight election, try to block populists
The left-leaning party of Estonia's current prime minister and the small Baltic country's main center-right opposition party compete with shared goal of keeping a far-right populist rival from making inroads
1:00PM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
The Latest: Initial tally puts Estonia ruling party 3rd
The first results from a parliamentary election in Estonia put the main opposition party ahead and a far-right populist party placing ahead of the main party in the coalition now governing the small Baltic
2:29PM ( 4 hours ago )
The Latest: Polls close in Estonia, e-results coming soon
Polls have closed in Estonia, where voters cast ballots in a parliamentary election that was expected to be a close race between the left-leaning party of the current prime minister and the main center-right opposition party
1:48PM ( 5 hours ago )
The Latest: Jackson says need for voting rights remains
Civil rights activist Jesse Jackson says that what he calls "schemes to suppress" voting rights "are very real, very alive" today
1:11PM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Elections
Italy's Democrats have new leader in bid to invigorate party
Members of Italy's Democratic Party voted for a new leader Sunday in hope of reversing their party's slumping popularity
6:01PM ( 1 hour ago )
Grace Jones rocks Zendaya show as Valentino gets ovation
A one-off itinerant extravaganza courtesy of American designer Tommy Hilfiger's "buy-now" collaboration with actress-singer Zendaya gave Paris Fashion Week a case of Saturday night fever
4:39PM ( 2 hours ago )
IS fighters put up fierce resistance to defend last pocket
Islamic State militants are desperately fighting to hang on to the last tiny piece of territory they hold on the riverside in eastern Syria, deploying snipers, guided missiles and surprise tunnel attacks
3:54PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP World News
The Latest: Brown, mulling 2020 run, visits South Carolina
Democrat Sherrod Brown hasn't decided yet whether he'll run for president in 2020, but the Ohio Democrat is spending time in early-voting South Carolina, where he's promoting higher wages for workers and more robust health care
3:07PM ( 1 day ago )
Trump rouses right with prediction of a big 2020 win
Trump rouses conservative conference with prediction of bigger win in 2020
1:24PM ( 1 day ago )
Democrats 2020: Governors try to crack the senator scramble
Democrats' growing presidential primary has expanded beyond Capitol Hill and the diverse, women-dominated group of senators who have dominated the race so far
1:11PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Elections - Campaigns
APNewsBreak: Man arrested in California blast that killed ex
The FBI says a California man was arrested Sunday in connection with an explosion that killed his ex-girlfriend at her day spa last year
7:09PM ( 7 minutes ago )
Defending Iditarod champ remains self-proclaimed 'goofball'
Defending Iditarod champion Joar Leifseth Ulsom says success hasn't changed him
6:58PM ( 19 minutes ago )
US-built capsule with a dummy aboard docks at space station
A sleek American-built space capsule with just a test dummy aboard has docked smoothly with the International Space Station
6:55PM ( 22 minutes ago )
Center-right party tops Estonia vote, but populists win, too
A center-right party that held the prime minister's office in Estonia for over a decade wins general election, while a far-right populist party emerges as a big winner despite snubs from traditional power-brokers
6:54PM ( 23 minutes ago )
Montez Sweat set big-man record for 40-yard dash
Mississippi State edge rusher Montez Sweat stood out among the deep defensive line class at the NFL scouting combine
6:46PM ( 31 minutes ago )