Hungary’s foreign ministry has summoned the German Embassy’s chargé d’affaires over German football team Hertha BSC firing Hungarian coach Zsolt Petry because of his recent remarks concerning migration and same-sex marriage.
On Thursday, Foreign Ministry State Secretary, Levente Magyar, voiced the Hungarian government’s “shock” that anyone could face “existential retaliation in Germany for expressing their opinion within a legal framework.”
“Germany, just like Hungary, has first-hand experience from history of the most complete terror of voicing an opinion, thus guarding the fundamental right to freedom of speech is our common moral duty,” said Magyar.
Hungary considers any restriction to the freedom of expression “unacceptable,” the state secretary said, arguing that the practice was reminiscent of a regime “that thousands of our compatriots died fighting against.”
Magyar said Germany remained a key partner for Hungary with which it aimed to have honest discussions on important issues that affect the two countries’ shared future.
Commenting on the incident, Gergely Gulyás, the prime minister’s chief of staff, also used some strong words during his press briefing. Gulyás called Petry’s dismissal outrageous, adding that Germany has to answer to whether it can still be considered a place under the rule of law.
A totalitarian regime was already born in Germany in the 20th century and we don’t want another in the 21st century”
The minister said that the case raised suspicion that Germany had “violated fundamental values”. He stressed that freedom of expression was a shared European value.
Gulyás emhasized that he agreed with “every word” Petry had said. What Petry said about marriage “coincides with an effective ruling of the German constitutional court,” the head of the Prime minister’s Office said, adding that the goalkeeping coach’s remarks on migration are “a European, restrained and civilised statement made in defence of a European identity, which must not be punished in a rule of law.”
If the Article 7 proceeding [initiated against Hungary and Poland] was not made a complete joke over the past years, this incident would rightly raise the question of whether fundamental European values were in danger [in Germany]”
As we previously reported, Hungarian goalkeeping coach, Zsolt Petry, was recently fired from his job at German Bundesliga team Hertha BSC for his critical comments to pro-gov’t Hungarian daily Magyar Nemzet about star goalie Péter Gulácsi’s support for rainbow families and on the subject of migration.
FactThis was not the first time that Zsolt Petry shared his critical opinion on migration to a Hungarian paper. In 2016, he told tabloid Blikk that he had enrolled his two daughters in kickboxing classes because “many young male refugees don’t know what to do with their masculinity. There are certain beaches where they have already been banned because they had molested women,” he added.
According to the football club, it had signed the Diversity Charter and was actively engaged in practicing diversity and tolerance. However, they couldn’t find any trace of these principles in Petry’s statements, which he had made publicly without prior consultation with them. Petry’s dismissal generated a huge public outcry in Hungary, with many politicians sharing their opinions on the incident.
In the featured photo: state secretary Levente Magyar. Photo by Lajos Soós/MTI