James Crisp. Freelance journalist in Brussels.

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‘There is no scandal’: Oettinger refuses to apologise for ‘slitty eyes’ speech

EXCLUSIVE/ Under-fire Commissioner Günther Oettinger this morning (2 November) refused to apologise for describing the Chinese as “slitty eyes” and mocking women and gay marriage.

EurActiv.com asked Oettinger if he would say sorry for the comments he made in a secretly filmed speech in Hamburg last week. He has faced calls for his resignation in Brussels and Berlin, after the scandal over his “racist and homophobic” statements broke.

Oettinger, 63 said, “Everything has been said. There is nothing to apologise for.”

Germany’s Commissioner, in line for promotion to Commission Vice-President, had defended the comments as “sloppy” but not racist in a German newspaper interview.

Since then, the European Commission has refused to apologise or investigate the incident.

Despite the gaffe-making headlines across Europe, Oettinger told EurActiv, “There is no scandal.

“It’s you [the press], it’s EurActiv that has made the scandal,” he said near the Commission’s Berlaymont building at about 10:15AM.

Oettinger, who held the energy portfolio in the Barroso Commission, then got in his car and drove himself to the airport.

The doubling-down on the refusal to acknowledge the issue, in his first press comments since the Die Welt interview, will heap fresh pressure on the European Commission to take some action against the gaffe-prone German.

Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker promoted Oettinger to be in charge of the EU budget on Friday (28 October), after the shocking speech leaked online. Budget Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva is resigning to take a job at the World Bank.

It was reported Monday (31 October) that Oettinger’s speech, in which he sarcastically said that gay marriage could be made compulsory by German lawmakers, could cost him the promotion and a pay rise of more than €2,000 a month.

If he is promoted, Oettinger will face scrutiny from MEPs in the Budget Committee. They are likely to grill him over his comments, but will not get the chance to quiz him before early next year.

>>Read: Whole story on EurActiv

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This entry was posted on November 10, 2016 by in Best scoops, Journalism and tagged .

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