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Bosnia Calls Off Orbán’s Planned Visit to Sarajevo Next Week Amid Tensions

picture of Viktor Orbán

Citing concerns over the pandemic, Bosnian officials postponed Viktor Orbán’s scheduled visit to Sarajevo on January 25, Euronews reports.

However, the news site suggests that the real reason for the cancelation has more to do with Bosnian frustration at the Hungarian government’s open support for the Bosnian Serbs in recent months.

At the Hungarian Government Information briefing session on December 21 last year, Viktor Orbán affirmed his administration’s support for Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, and the government is expected to provide €100 million (US $113 million) in aid to Dodik’s Republika Srpska. According to Azonnali, the Serbian member of Bosnia’s Presidency is working to tear his country apart and endangers peace in the region.

Orbán made another statement on Bosnia at the briefing, questioning “how to deal with the security of a state where two million Muslims live,” that raised eyebrows in the Balkan country as well. These sentiments by the Prime Minister were also echoed by government spokesman Zoltán Kovács on Twitter.

The statements caused an outcry in Bosnia, with some groups calling for a ban on Orbán’s planned visit to Sarajevo and a leader of the local Islamic community called Orbán’s statement “xenophobic and racist.”

Nor was the tense diplomatic situation between the two countries helped by the fact that just over a week ago, 30 MEPs in Brussels called for an investigation against Hungary’s Olivér Várhelyi, claiming that the Enlargement Commissioner was opening supporting Milorad Dodik’s Serb separatist ambitions in Bosnia.

Finally, the Hungarian Foreign Minister’s announcement that Hungary would veto any proposed EU sanction against the Serbs provoked strong reactions among politicians representing the majority population in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

​Bosnian lawmaker Šemsudin Mehmedović gave a strong assessment of the situation on social media:

Orbán, through Dodik, is preparing a Kristallnacht for Europe’s Muslims.

-said the Bosnian politician.

To make clear the weight of his words, Kristallnacht was the violent antisemitic pogrom against Jews in Germany when the Nazis looted, vandalized, or destroyed 267 synagogues and set fire to 7,000 Jewish-owned businesses on November 9-10, 1938. Hundreds died that night, and a short time later thirty thousand Jews were deported to concentration camps. [Euronews]

Posted in Foreign Relations

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  1. Misi bacsi

    Orban’s minimization of Hungarian responsibility for the Shoah (Holocaust) in Hungary and/or trying to have it both ways is a foundation for his regime’s behavior in the Balkans i.e. minimization of Hungarian responsibility via a portrait of Hungary as a Nazi “victim” at the so called monument on Liberty Square in Budapest , but then acknowledging -after much pressure- the outsized role of the Hungarian regimes of 1944, 1945 in making the deportations of Jewish Hungarians possible. In the same vein, Orban minimizes the role of the Serbs in genocide in Bosnia and directs more hate toward the European Islamic community. No wonder, that the Bosnian law maker made reference to Kristallnacht albeit not the most accurate comparison. Nevertheless, I do recognize the understandable rage directed against the Hungarian regime, especially given recent regime behavior. Orban’s behavior is 100% reprehensible. Good to see Orban’s visit terminated.

    • Steven

      I found the Kristallnacht reference rather shocking and somewhat overly dramatic at first. But on the other hand, if you just replace the word “Muslims” with “Jews” in Orbán’s and Kovács’ comments, you can start to see where he’s coming from.

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