After U.S. President Barack Obama made a speech highlighting American pressure to stop Hungary from erecting a statue of an anti-Semite, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s office yesterday issued a statement saying that the prime minister “strongly objected” to America’s “ill-advised” interference in the issue.
In a the first address to the Israeli Embassy by an American president, given on International Holocaust Memorial Day on Wednesday, Obama (pictured) said that, in opposing the statue of Bálint Hóman, the U.S. made it clear that erecting the statue would seriously impact bilateral relations, according to a report by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
“When a statue of an anti-Semitic leader from World War II was planned in Hungary, we led the charge to convince their government to reverse course,” Obama told a gathering at the embassy in Washington D.C., according to the JTA’s report. “This was not a side note to our relations with Hungary, this was central to maintaining a good relationship with the United States, and we let them know.”
In a response posted on the Hungarian government’s web site, Orbán’s press office conceded that there had been U.S. opposition to a statue of Hóman, who made anti-Jewish laws in Hungary in the World War II era, “but Prime Minister Viktor Orbán strongly objected to this behavior. In general, he said, pressure coming from abroad only hinders progress towards solutions to problems, and this was also exactly what happened in relation to the Hóman statue. The Prime Minister’s position is that an attempt of this nature by the American government was ill-advised.”