Hungary has urged European Commission Vice-President to quit after he was quoted suggesting Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s animosity towards US billionaire George Soros is driven by anti-Semitism.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban has long harbored animosity toward Soros, a Jewish financier billionaire who was born in Hungary and has donated millions of dollars to liberal causes. Orban is now defending controversial legislation that many see as an attempt to shut down the Central European University in Budapest, a highly respected university Soros founded in 1991.
On Wednesday, Orban told the European Parliament that Soros is an “American financial speculator attacking Hungary” who has “destroyed the lives of millions of Europeans.”
The following day, European Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans, a center-left Dutch politician, agreed when asked if he thought Orban’s comments sounded anti-Semitic.
“I understood that exactly the same way and was appalled,” Timmermans said.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto called on Timmerman to resign for his assertion.
Hundreds of academics around the world have protested Orban’s legislation, which are amendments to the Hungarian National Higher Education Act. The fight is seen as a battle between Orban’s nationalist priorities and Soros’ “open society” outlook.
Orban is a supporter of President Donald Trump and his immigration policies.