Hungarian FM defends praise for Nazi ally Miklos Horthy, criticizes his anti-Semitic policies

JTA

(JTA) – Hungary’s foreign minister defended his prime minister’s praise for a collaborator with Nazi Germany, in a statement that also criticized that quisling’s anti-Semitic policies.

The statement Saturday by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjártó about Miklós Horthy followed Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s assertion during a speech on July 21 that Horthy, who was an ally of Adolf Hitler, was one of “a few outstanding statesmen,” thanks to whom “history did not bury us beneath itself after all.”

“History must be respected, and the historical facts indicate that the activities of Miklós Horthy as governor included both positive and extremely negative periods,” Szijjártó told the MTI news agency Saturday, following condemnations for Orban’s praise by the Mazshihisz umbrella group of Jewish communities and the World Jewish Congress.

Israel’s ambassador to Budapest, Yossi Amrani, also sought clarification from Hungarian government officials regarding the statement on Horthy, who passed anti-Semitic laws and oversaw the murder of hundreds of thousands of Jews.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to visit Hungary later this month.

“However, it is extremely negative and belongs in the category of historical sin that despite his oath he did not protect Hungary’s Jews, who were part of the Hungarian nation,” Szijjártó added in his statement about Horthy. “It belongs in the category of historical sin that laws which discriminated against Jews were introduced during his time in office, and that hundreds of thousands of Jews fell victim to the Holocaust,” Szijjártó added.

“Our government is one of the European governments that has done the most to combat anti-Semitism. While Hungary has its current government, the Hungarian Jewish community can be sure that the Government will protect them in every respect,” Szijjártó also said.

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