Germany’s EU commissioner is on the back foot after calling Chinese “slit eyes” in a speech to businessmen in Hamburg last week.
Guenther Oettinger, a senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, responded to accusations of racism by telling the newspaper Die Welta that his remark was “somewhat sloppy” but “in no way meant to be disrespectful to China.”
Oettinger also drew condemnation for joking in his speech that “perhaps compulsory gay marriage” would be introduced soon, prompting politicians from the Greens and Social Democrats to call for his resignation.
Green politician Volker Beck called Oettinger a “lunatic goblin” afraid of gays, Reuters reported.
“An EU commissioner must be able to convincingly represent the European values of non-discrimination,” said German Federation of Lesbians and Gays spokeswoman Stefanie Schmidt, “and not put the case for racist and homophobic prejudices.”
This is not the first time that Oettinger’s “sloppy” remarks have drawn criticism, as Politico points out.
In the past, he has called EU neighbours “barely governable,” called the French government a repeat criminal offender for breaking EU budget rules, and absent-mindedly sang the verse “Deutschland über alles”—removed for its Nazi-era connotations—in a rendition of the German national anthem.
[Image via Wikimedia]