UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has compared the European Union to the Soviet Union, prompting outrage. Prime Minister Theresa May attempted to downplay his rhetoric amid Brexit negotiations.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Tuesday that the European Union is "not the same" as the Soviet Union, one day after her top diplomat made the comparison that has infuriated EU leaders, especially those who lived under Soviet repression.
On Sunday, UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt accused the EU of trying to hinder a smooth Brexitand said "it was the Soviet Union that stopped people leaving."
'I was born in a Soviet gulag'
The comment prompted outrage from several high-level officials, including Vytenis Andriukaitis, the EU Commissioner of Health and Food Safety, whose parents were forcibly deported from Lithuania while his mother was pregnant with him.
"I was born in [a] Soviet gulag," Andriukaitis wrote on Twitter, "and been imprisoned by KGB a few times in my life. Happy to brief you on the main differences between EU and Soviet Union."
Hunt's predecessor Peter Ricketts also slammed the remark, saying it was "unworthy of a British foreign secretary. The EU isn't a Soviet-style prison. Its legal order has brought peace and prosperity after a century of war."
Several legislators in the Commission called for an apology.
Prime Minister May did not apologize on Hunt's behalf, but said "as I sit around that table in the European Union there are countries there who used to be part of the Soviet Union, they are now democratic countries and I can tell you that the two organizations are not the same."
es/aw (AP, Reuters)