Romania’s agricultural minister compared the incinerating of pigs affected with swine fever to what happened at Auschwitz.
Petre Daea apologized Thursday in an attempt to clarify the remarks he had made two days earlier in a televised interview, according to reports.
In a statement, Daea said he respected “all members of the Jewish community,” and that “I only wanted to present the particularly difficult situation facing pig breeders from African swine fever. In my soul there is a lot of pain, I wanted to describe the awful moments our farmers face.”
Daea does not oppose the incineration of the infected pigs.
During the interview, he said of the disposal of the bodies of thousands of pigs infected with the disease, also known as hog cholera, “The pigs (at the farm) are all incinerated it’s extraordinary work, it’s like Auschwitz.”
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Israel’s embassy in Bucharest criticized the remarks.
“We hope that such an association was made by Minister Daea because of the lack of in-depth information on what the Holocaust and Auschwitz are, without the intention of dishonoring the memory of millions of victims,” an embassy statement said.
Opposition lawmakers and representatives of groups affiliated with the Jewish community have called for Daea’s resignation.
The director of the Center for Monitoring and Combatting Antisemitism in Romania, Maximilian Katz, invited the lawmaker to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum in Poland to “understand the enormity and the seriousness of his scandalous statement, the Balkan Insight news website reported.
“It is not the first time this type of comparison is made in Romania, but it is the first time a sitting minister has made this type of unspeakable statement,” Katz said Thursday in a statement.
More than 44,500 pigs have been affected by the disease.