An incumbent European Commissioner. Attending an openly political event. Of a party that is indulging a troublesome affair with Hungary’s anti-Semitic, far-right, a party that the World Jewish Congress calls “extremist” and “unworthy of alliance.” Where to begin?
First of all, the commissioner is actively campaigning. That’s a problem. The government of Hungary has already pointed out (in calling on Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to relieve Timmermans of his role on the Commission) that the EU’s Code of Conduct says commissioners are expected to perform their duties “with complete independence, integrity, dignity, with loyalty and discretion.”
Read, “with complete independence”. Why should an incumbent European Commissioner appear at the congress of a Hungarian political party? I know Spitzenkandidat and all that but this is going too far, especially because of the troubling deal.
By attending the Socialist Party congress this weekend, Timmermans is effectively giving his European left-wing seal of approval to the budding alliance between Hungary’s liberal left and the far-right Jobbik party. One of their leading figures, commenting on an outrageous statement by a Jobbik party vice president, said it’s not a problem to go drawing up lists of people of Jewish origin (see the video here). It seems Commissioner Timmermans is also ok with that.
It’s a deeply disturbing political deal that puts values and ideology aside in the interest of political gain.
As it turns out, it seems Commissioner Timmermans is no stranger to unprincipled political opportunism. Remember his advice to Prime Minister Orbán just a couple of months ago?
"Since Prime Minister Orbán is so vocal in saying that he wants to combat anti-Semitism, I would call upon him to avoid dog-whistle words, to avoid any form of campaigning that could be seen as implicitly anti-Semitic.”
Coming to Budapest to bless this political marriage, Commissioner Timmermans should know just who he’s embracing. This is a party that the World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder called extremist. “Jobbik has not done nearly enough in terms of concrete actions to distance itself from its anti-Semitic roots,” Lauder said in a statement earlier this week.
“As long as extremism reigns within this party,” said Lauder, “Jobbik must be designated by its peers in the Hungarian parliament, as well as by the international community, as an outcast not worthy of alliance.”
At a time when anti-Semitic hate crimes are on the rise in many corners of western Europe, a word for Commissioner Timmermans:
If you want to combat anti-Semitism, then you should avoid any form of campaigning that could be seen as implicitly anti-Semitic. Sadly, by lending your support to this campaign event, you are backing a political deal with a far-right, extremist party not worthy of alliance.