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Juncker says Oettinger's gaffe doesn't reflect EU values

Junker has said Oettinger's gaffe about gays and the Chinese doesn't reflect the views of the European Commission. He stressed the European Commission was against discrimination in all its forms.

Controversial comments made by German EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger (pictured left) do not reflect his opinions and, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told Belgian newspaper Le Soir on Saturday.

The head of the EU executive responded for the first time to a series of comments Oettinger made at a business association event the previous week in which he said things that could be interpreted as offending Chinese, gays and people from Wallonia in Belgium.

Oettinger called Chinese "slant-eyed" in a rant about EU competition, joked that with Germany's liberal welfare system "compulsory gay marriage" could be introduced and criticized Wallonia's bid to block an EU-Canada trade deal.

"A Commissioner cannot hold such views. I told him he had to apologize to those who could have felt targeted," Juncker said. "I was particularly shocked about what he said on the subject of homosexuals. That does not reflect any of my convictions," Juncker said.

The comments came days before Oettinger was promoted from to European Commission's budget commissioner from his current role as Digital Economy and Society commissioner.

"I sincerely think that his comments did not reflect his thoughts," Juncker said, adding that he had spoke to Oettinger. "He is a liberal man on social issues, and so I was surprised," Juncker said.

"I respect contrary convictions, but this commission advocates everywhere for non-discrimination," he added.

Oettinger apologized for the off-the-cuff remarks on Thursday, saying it was not his intention to create bad feelings or hurt anybody.

Junker said he only heard about the Oettinger's comment on Wednesday evening and "couldn't immediately turn my attention to this Oettinger's clumsiness."

Watch video 02:33

EU Parliament president talks to DW

cw/rc (dpa, Reuters)

 

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