A long-time adviser to Viktor Orbán has resigned over a speech that the Hungarian prime minister gave in which he criticised what he labelled as "race mixing", sparking international outcry.
Zsuzsa Hegedüs said in a letter sent to Hungarian news outlet hvg.hu that while she doesn't believe Orbán is racist as a person, the comments he made on Saturday "turned into an openly racist speech".
"I don't know how you didn't notice that you were turning your previous anti-migrant [rhetoric] and anti-Europeanism into a pure Nazi text worthy of [Joseph] Goebbels," she said. "But I cannot, because of the severity of the fact, even with our friendship of nearly 20 years, overlook that this time."
Orbán denies the allegations, blaming the media for misrepresenting his comments. In a letter responding to Hegedüs ' resignation, he said his government takes a "zero tolerance" approach to anti-semitism and racism.
"You can't seriously accuse me of racism after 20 years of working together," Orbán said.
The populist prime minister delivered the controversial speech during his annual address at the Tusvanyos Summer University in Romania. In it, he claimed "the west is split in two", arguing that countries where European and non-European people intermingle "are no longer nations".
“We [Hungarians] are not a mixed race … and we do not want to become a mixed race,” he added, triggering international outrage.
The International Auschwitz Committee said it was "horrified" by the comments and called on the EU to distance itself from "such racist overtones".
Romanian MEP Alin Mituța called the speech "purely delusional and dangerous", while Katalin Cseh, an MEP from Hungary's opposition Momentum party, said Orbán's words "really show the true colours of [his] regime".
Hegedüs has since responded to Orbán's reaction to her departure, telling him that his comments are unacceptable because he made them in his official capacity as prime minister of Hungary. She said that even the slightest hint of racial discrimination could eventually spiral into tragedies like the Holocaust.
"This horror could only have happened because too many people were silent when the kind of hatred the Nazis were building on was being born," she said.