The former US House speaker has caused yet another international incident
The top aide to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban reacted on Monday to former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s comments that his country should not be part of the European Union.
“Fortunately, in Hungary, it is the Hungarian people who decide and vote on their own future, and no one else has a say in this. Not even the Democrats,” Balasz Orban (no relation), wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
Pelosi’s fighting words came during an interview with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, published on Monday morning, in the context of a question about the government in Rome.
“There are other EU members who don’t do so well with one thing or another,” Pelosi said. “I don’t think Hungary should be in the EU today, but once they are in it is difficult to get them out.”
Pelosi had previously criticized Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni for her immigration and LGBT policies, which were at odds with those of the American ruling party. She now praised Meloni for speaking English and supporting Ukraine, arguing that she should not face more scrutiny than other leaders in the bloc.
Immigration and LGBT issues have also been a bone of contention between Washington and Budapest. US President Joe Biden went so far as to send a gay ambassador to Hungary, whose presence alone is “an implicit rebuke” of Orban’s “culture wars agenda,” according to Politico.
Corriere caught up with the Italian-American lawmaker on Saturday, at a campaign event in Virginia, ahead of her trip to Paris to be granted an honorary doctorate at the Sorbonne for “contribution to democracy.” Pelosi also told the outlet that she “loved” Mario Draghi, Meloni’s predecessor as prime minister and former head of the European Central Bank, and knew well former PM Matteo Renzi.
The Italian interview is not the first time the 83-year-old Democrat has caused international outrage. In August 2022, she traveled to Taiwan against explicit Chinese warnings, triggering weeks of military tensions with Beijing. She brushed off the fallout by telling reporters it was “totally worth it.”
Three months later, the Democrats lost the midterm elections, and Pelosi lost the speaker’s gavel. She also retired as the leader of her party conference, staying in a cozy private office until she was thrown out by the Republicans last month.