Viktor Orbán’s message to Brussels

Viktor Orbán is again marching to a different drummer. While European politicians and leaders of the European Union are working hard to find a humane and peaceful solution to the refugee crisis, the Hungarian prime minister is preparing for war–war against anyone who tries to seek refuge in Hungary.

Angela Merkel, by legalizing the settlement of Syrian refugees in Germany, took a step in the right direction. But Germany cannot solve the problem alone; there must be a common effort by the 28 member states. Johanna Mikl-Leitner, the Austrian interior … Read the rest

Viktor Orbán did not attend the Balkan Summit

Although most commentators are critical of the European Union’s handling of the flood of refugees, today I’m more optimistic that a viable solution will be found, which might not be to the liking of Viktor Orbán. I came to this conclusion after reading summaries of speeches at the second West Balkan Summit, held today in Vienna. These summits were originally designed to prepare the ground for the eventual EU membership of six so-called West Balkan states–Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia, but today’s gathering was completely overshadowed … Read the rest

Jobbik shows the way, the Orbán government follows

There are several new developments on the refugee front, both inside and outside of Hungary. Let’s first discuss Germany’s surprise move  yesterday to allow all bona fide Syrian refugees to remain in Germany regardless of where they entered the European Union. The Germans thus made the first move to suspend the current rules governing refugees laid down in the Dublin agreement. As the spokesman for the interior ministry said, the decision was dictated first and foremost by humanitarian considerations, but there were also practical reasons for suspending the current practice. … Read the rest

Hungary at the Milan Expo: An expensive, embarrassing pavilion

In the last few days quite a few alleged corruption cases have surfaced that may deserve closer scrutiny. For today’s post I picked one, the story of the Hungarian pavilion at the Milan World’s Fair. It might be amusing if it were not so sad. More than five billion forints were spent building a pavilion and designing a program that was supposed to say something meaningful about  Hungary’s contribution to sustainable agriculture and the environment. The result? Hungary ended up with a monstrous building and an inferior kitschy exhibition that … Read the rest

The dynamics of mass migrations

Just as predicted, thousands of refugees still manage to cross the Serb-Hungarian border even where that useless fence is already in place. I don’t know who in his right mind thought that this pitiful-looking contraption would stop anyone who has been on the road for months from Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria with the intention of entering the European Union. After all, the refugees are facing their last hurdle, and it is unlikely that they will be frightened off by a flimsy fence and will turn back. Only people who know … Read the rest

Hungary: A nation of emigrants?

This year’s August 20 state holiday was used, on the one hand, to disseminate anti-immigration propaganda and, on the other, to emphasize Hungary’s sacrifices in the defense of Western Christianity. Perhaps the harshest rhetoric against the refugees was that of Csaba Hende, minister of defense, who said that Hungary will not be a thoroughfare for people on the go. But the fact is that Hungary, by virtue of her geographical location, has been a passageway for centuries. And since 2010, I would venture to say, more foreign citizens have used … Read the rest

Zoltán Balog’s message to Hungarian writers

I hardly ever write anything on literary topics although I began my university career as a student of Hungarian language and literature. The few times I wrote about literature I usually discussed it from a political perspective, which was justifiable because the relationship between literature and politics in the countries of East-Central Europe is legendarily close. How, for instance, can we separate the poetry of Sándor Petőfi, Endre Ady, or Attila József from the turbulent political events of their times?

For quite a while Fidesz has been waging a kind … Read the rest