Hungary’s troubled relationship with the United States took another turn on Monday when the two sides clashed over conspiracy theories with competing references to ‘The Godfather’.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán sparked the exchange when he tweeted the words « Soros 2.0 » in response to news that Hungarian-American businessman George Soros has decided to hand over his multibillion-dollar foundation to his son Alexander.
The Hungarian leader included a clip from the iconic film ‘The Godfather’ showing fictional mafia boss Vito Corleone kissing his son and heir, Michael.
Orbán has campaigned for years portraying Soros as a puppeteer who controls the Hungarian opposition and plots against the country’s interests, fueling concerns that the Hungarian government is spreading conspiracy theories and anti-Semitic narratives.
In 2017, the Hungarian government plastered the country with billboards depicting Soros smiling, with the text « Let’s not let Soros have the last laugh. » And in his victory speech after the 2022 Hungarian parliamentary election, Orbán even claimed that he effectively defeated “every money and every organization in the Soros empire.”
Orbán’s tweet on Monday prompted a sharp public rebuke from the United States
The US Ambassador to Hungary, David Pressman, he answered to Orbán’s Twitter comment with a GIF of a woman in a tinfoil hat.
« Whistle conspiracy theories are like the plot of Godfather 3, » joked the American diplomat, « predictable and worrying. »
The Hungarian leader’s tweet also sparked criticism across Europe.
“Simply disgusting. Mr. Orban is a disgrace to Europe » tweeted Michael Roth, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the German Bundestag and member of the Social Democratic Party.
German Green MEP Daniel Freund, a vocal critic of the Hungarian government, was even more outspoken: « Look at this tweet, » he he wrote« and then tell me who the mafioso is. »