The fence “matches the brutal policies of Premier Orbán”

One of Viktor Orbán’s most successful political ploys, we often read, is to divert attention from the failings of his administration by bringing up new topics that dominate the news. So, the argument goes, last fall’s crisis that erupted after revelations that the U.S. had banned certain Hungarian officials from entering the United States due to corruption and this spring’s scandal of government involvement in the financial fraud of the Quaestor Group almost automatically led to the “creation” of the grave immigration crisis. Yes, the talking heads maintain, there is a serious immigration crisis in the western part of the European Union, but that is not the case in Hungary. Ninety-nine percent of those who cross the Serb-Hungarian border leave the country at the very first opportunity.

I am one of the few people who don’t subscribe to this theory. I am convinced that Viktor Orbán honestly believes that Hungary should remain uni-cultural and that the mixing of cultures brings only strife and conflict. Commentators tend to forget that already in August 2014, while delivering a speech to the country’s ambassadors, Orbán lashed out against immigration, stating that “the goal is to cease immigration altogether.”

Unfortunately, his own personal beliefs happen to coincide with the feelings of the majority of the Hungarian people. Orbán is a smart, if corrupt and immoral politician, who knows better than most people that the majority of Hungarians are xenophobic. Over the years, polling results unequivocally showed that Hungarians didn’t want to let immigrants into the country. They didn’t even want to have anything to do with “pirézek,” a nonexistent group of people. So, one doesn’t have to be a political genius to know that the “immigration card” is a sure bet. It will always work. Especially if it is presented in such a way that the population comes to believe that it is Viktor Orbán and his government who are defending them from a peril that threatens their way of life.

Such rhetoric can dramatically influence public sentiment, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Fidesz and Viktor Orbán’s popularity increases in the next few months. This game is not about diverting attention but about regaining popularity and hence retaining power. Preferably for decades to come. Orbán always seems to be capable of coming up with clever new ideas to secure his position. Whether these moves are injurious to the country’s reputation or its position in the European Union interests him not at all. Simply put, he is ready to do anything to remain the prime minister of Hungary. And as long as the Hungarians swallow his ideas hook, line, and sinker, he will succeed at his game.

A lot of people on the left are skeptical about the polling results of Századvég and Nézőpont, and they are certainly correct when it comes to Nézőpont, but Századvég numbers are more reliable. Therefore, I don’t seriously question Századvég’s latest poll on the population’s reaction to the three billboards that the government created in order to incite Hungarians against immigrants. It turns out that the majority of Hungarians agree with the billboards’ messages. Eighty-five percent agreed that the immigrants must obey the laws of the country, which is no surprise at all. Seventy-five percent agreed that they have to respect Hungarian culture. Even the most controversial message, “If you come to Hungary, you can’t take away the jobs of Hungarians!” is supported by 59% of the population. In the case of the first two questions there is no discernible difference between pro-Fidesz and pro-Jobbik respondents on the one hand and supporters of parties of the left on the other. When it comes to taking jobs away, those who reject the message come only from the left. However disheartening it may be, the majority of the population supports this sickening campaign.

All of the non-Hungarian newspapers I looked at today disapproved of the way the Orbán government is handling the crisis. First of all, almost everybody agreed that the problem is European-wide and can be managed only by the joint effort of all the member states. In addition, almost all the newspapers decried the brutish methods employed by the Hungarian government. As Die Zeit says, the construction of the 175 km-long security fence “matches the brutal policies of Premier Orbán.”

The idea of building a wall was first suggested by László Toroczkai, a neo-Nazi who last year became the Jobbik mayor of a village close to the Serbian border. That was back in February. Once again, Fidesz is taking over a Jobbik idea. Admittedly, there are other walls and fences all over the world by now which, by the way, are no answer to migration. But in Hungary’s case sealing the border with Serbia is especially shameful. Twenty-six years ago, on June 27, 1989, Gyula Horn, the country’s foreign minister, along with his Austrian counterpart, cut the wire fence between the two countries to symbolize the beginning of a new era. The country allowed thousands of East German refugees to cross to Austria and freedom. Hungary also sent its own share of refugees to other countries in 1956, refugees who found sympathy, shelter, and eventually new homes abroad.

A funny comment on the wall by an "internet artist"

A comment on the fence by an “internet artist”

Serbian prime minister Aleksandar Vučić was “surprised and shocked,” and tomorrow at a Serbian-Hungarian summit he most likely will reiterate his reaction. He declared that Serbia will not follow Hungary’s example: “it will not build walls … and will not live in Auschwitz.”

As for the seriousness of the situation, opinions differ widely. Jan Schroth, head of the Czech office of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), claims that the current situation is neither dramatic nor unusual. The only difference is that too many people are dying needlessly at the borders of the EU. Using IOM’s data, he alleges that in the first half of the year 100,000 refugees arrived, while last year the total number was 200,000. So, there is no appreciable increase in the numbers. In his opinion, “Europe with its population of 500 million could easily absorb one million immigrants over a number of years.”

A lot of economists would agree. The birthrate in European countries is very low, and hence their populations are aging rapidly. For the most part the immigrants are young, and they could contribute to economic and demographic growth. The Hungarian situation has been particularly bad as far as the country’s demographics are concerned. The last time the fertility rate was over 2, which would have kept the size of the population more or less stable, was in 1979. Since 1981 the natural change has been consistently in negative territory. In 1981 the country’s population was 10,700,000, while in 2014 it was only 9,849,000. This is an 8% decrease. To this figure we could add the almost half a million Hungarians who have left the country in the last ten years or so and yet remain on the census rolls. All efforts to change this trend have failed, and I see no other remedy than a gradual but determined policy of immigration. But for political purposes Viktor Orbán is doing everything in his power to prevent such a course of action.

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Eszti
Guest

The number of applicants has risen dramatically, with the UNHCR saying that there is no humanitarian bandaid: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-33178035
It is not surprising that Hungarians do not want to replace their population numbers from North Africa and Syria, when you put it in such a dehumanised way. Seeing and treating these people as human beings is what is missing from political discussion, and in the reactions of our political. Refugees are not pests that need controlling, for shame!

spectator
Guest
“…his own personal beliefs happen to coincide with the feelings of the majority of the Hungarian people..” -Or the people having been skilfully manipulated into believing the very same crap what fits to his interest? I have no doubts, whatsoever that Orbán is truly xenophobe and don’t really want to see even one single coloured person in Hungary, but I am – at least – equally convinced that he is a master puppeteer and playing the populace at his will. After all, who ever will believe that a fence will stop the people from entering to Hungary? As much as I know, anyone with Serbian documents could rightfully enter into Hungary – and just how hard to come by such papers, but really? (In case of doubt, please, look up the events on the day of the visit of chancellor Merkel: the Hungarian authorities stopped a two hundred something Kosovo-Albanian refugees – and a train, mind you – from entering to Austria from Hungary, -the other side of the country, that is – while they legally entered to Hungary!) Having came so far one may assume that his intentions nothing more serious than to stir up sentiments and – preferably… Read more »
Csaba K. Zoltani
Guest

The comments to the Die Zeit article (in German) cited gives a balanced appraisal of fences all over Europe as well as the Middle East including the Gaza Strip. The alleged “brutal policies of Premier Orban” apparently are widely practiced in many places.

Of course, not fences but enlightened policies is the answer to this human tragedy.

István
Guest

Eva could you be quoting the same Aleksandar Vučić who in a statement made in the Serbian National Assembly on the 20th of July 1995 said: “For every killed Serb, we will kill 100 Muslims”? This happened by the way just few days after the Srebrenica massacre in which more than 8000 Muslims were systematically murdered by the Serbian forces.

Could this be the same Aleksandar Vučić who when he was Serbian Minister of Information in the government of Mirko Marjanović introduced fines for journalists who criticized the government and banned foreign TV networks?

Is this the same guy who pledged to tackle corruption and organized crime in Serbia, yet though in more than two years his government has produced no convictions and only a handful of arrests? Is this the same guy who honors Putin and who last year closed down websites critical of Russian aggression in Ukraine. The only thing Aleksandar Vučić wants is to get the Syrians the hell out of Serbia as fast as possible. That is why he opposes the wall, which is why I called him a hypocrite yesterday and do so again now even though this Orban project is completely useless.

Webber
Guest

It is the same Vucic, you are right. It is also the same Vucic who has such a good relationship with Orban that the Serbian and Hungarian governments will have a “joint session” in two weeks- planned far in advance of Orban’s new idea.
Orban and Vucic get along brilliantly.

exTor
Guest

Evidently Aleksandar Vučić has stopped taking irony supplements. Back in the day (when he was ingesting far too much irony) he joined the Serbian Radical Party, the local version of Jobbik. This was after he knew that many of his own relatives had been killed by the Ustaše (a Croatian-nationalist Roman Catholic fascist puppet of Nazi Germany). His father’s family had been driven out of Bosnia by the fascist Ustaše.

So, Vučić evidently found God (or somebody) and quit the SRP because he didn’t want to cozy up to the out-and-out fascists of the SRP, which had just split. He joined that split, the Serbian Progressive Party, a somewhat more moderate version of the SRP. Vučić’s SPP is analogous to Fidesz. No wonder Vučić and Orbán act like they’re the bestest of buds.

Evidently also, God exists everywhere, even on the right (but incorrect) side of the political divide, hence Vučić’s high-ground posturing over the Goulash Curtain-to-be, about which he and Orbie will chitchat.

That great humanist Vučić is only concerned about bottling up the ‘menekültek’ in Serbia. He really couldn’t give a **** about the refugees.

MAGYARKOZÓ

Member

Aggressive politicians, with media control can educate entire societies.

The distorted value system Hungarians developed is the result of decades long brainwash.

The direction of the Hungarian society is now SOUTH. It was the EAST for awhile, but the goal is Africa now. On their way, they will soon pass the level of Bulgaria, Moldova and Greece while become more isolated and in no time Libya, Algeria and Morocco will be their ideological partner. As they progress, soon they will embrace the common culture, discovered by the viktor and Szijjártó, with Nigeria and Uganda.

Member

I tried to watch the “royal” (MTV1) TV news broadcast to see how the news about the anti-immigration fence are communicated to the people. After the first few minutes it was simply too much for me… but what particularly irritated me was the consequent terminology. Obviously, the news anchors had been instructed to avoid the word “menekült” (refugee), so these people, most of whom probably have no plans to stay in Hungary, were systematically called “bevándorló” (immigrant). Again, strengthening the impression that Hungary, specifically, is “under attack”.

clive75mercer
Guest

This immigrant issue is a human crisis that Orban and other inhuman politicians across Europe have exploited for their own ends, and to pander to the xenophobic elements in their own populations. Britain with it’s new Conservative Government, has MP’s within its ranks who are natural xnephobes, and is therefore encouraged to show that there is no need for the “United Kingdom Independence Party”, when it comes to the issue of immigration. That Britain, along with France, Hungary, and others is refusing to take part in any European wide plan to find new homes for these beleaguered people, is deeply shameful and a crime against humanity. It is yet another sign of the increasing growth and popularity of Right wing Nationalistic Conservative Politics, that trades on “Patriotism” but which has crossed that narrow divide to become Nationalism and hence, perish the thought, to Fascicm

Nádas
Guest

The backlash to this sudden surge in immigration is not unique to Hungary. The Danish People’s Party, a right-wing, anti-immigration party, has just won a major victory in relatively open-minded, ethnically homogeneous Denmark. The DPP is now the second largest party in the Danish parliament. The party leader has said he would push for “control of the flow of refugees.”

The idea of building a border fence is not unique either, but Orbán’s government loves infrastructure projects, whether it’s the EU or the Hungarian taxpayer who’s picking up the tab.

bimbi
Guest

Sorry to say so but one must ask why there is no voice of the Catholic church in Hungary speaking out loudly and clearly against the Orban government’s policies regarding refugees. Where is the voice of their Lord Jesus Christ? Have they not at some time in their religious education heard about “no room at the inn” or the Good Samaritan? Perhaps the Catholic church in Hungary remains true to the teachings of Bishop Ottokar Prohaszka (“Why I am an Anti-Semite”) and to the example of the Vatican-trained Arrow-Cross fanatic Andras Kun (“For the love of Christ, shoot!”)?
Catholics: Your slavish acceptance of the policies of this government and your determination not to live your faith speak volumes for your hypocrisy, your false piety and your callousness.
Now. Dig into your pockets and sponsor a refugee or a refugee family – and maybe even Janos Lazar (“What is wrong with being rich?”) will follow your example…

Mark
Guest

Point taken.

Will do.

- A "Bad" Catholic in Hungary

Guest

We call M1TV “North Korean State TV” and my wife is so happy that she can watch the news on her smart phone now and select the appropriate channels without Fidesz propaganda.
That fence is really like a nightmare – everybody knows it won’t work, but still …

A bit OT re the Piréz:

The first time I heard about them I had to laugh, are there any new numbers about Hungarians’ feelings re Pirézians?

If I remember correctly Tarki introduced them in their surveys.

David
Guest

Off topic, but there is a good review of Hungarian foreign policy in Carnigie Europe today:

http://carnegieeurope.eu/strategiceurope/?fa=60449

petofi
Guest

re:…from Feledy & Racz and the above article:

“…on May 5, Russian President Vladimir Putin openly threatened Hungary, saying it could seriously harm the country’s economic interests if Budapest pulled out of an agreement for the Russian energy company Rosatom to expand Hungary’s Paks nuclear power plant. This declaration indicates that Hungary’s relationship with Russia is much more complex than simply a bond between a serf and his lord.”

When I see foreigners fall for a little ‘street theatre’ such as this, I give them a pass: I have a much harder time forgiving Hungarian speakers to take such nonsense seriously. Surely this is papa Putin giving a hand to Viktor by allowing him to demonstrate how much pressure he/Hungary is under. This reminds me of card cheats at the poker table.

Any Hungarians still able to activate the few brain cells they may still be master of, should realize what this means for heroic, Hungarian, Independence….or, does it no longer matter when the master cracks the whip?

O solo mio…what fools these Hungaricoes be!

HAJRA MAGYAROK!!!

Istvan
Guest
Botond Feledy and András Rácz’s essay on Judy Dempsey’s Strategic Europe I think makes a conceptual error. That error is embedded in what the authors call “Orbán’s misguided multivectorial approach to foreign policy.” The authors note that: “Many observers perceive the Hungarian government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to be a Russian Trojan horse inside the EU and NATO,” that is pretty much my own thinking as I have said before on this blog. I would add that Charles Gati seems to have a very similar perspective to Feledy and Racz on the Orban regime as do many current US State Department officials. The Eastern opening is not an attempt at a balancing act on the part of Fidesz, it’s an evolutionary pathway back to being a satellite of mother Russia. As is obvious Russia with its aggressive military posture including, the Crimean invasion, additional ICBMs with nuclear warheads, probing penetrations of NATO air space, and even patrols off the United States – we are heading to a highly polarized situation. PM Orban is an intelligent person, all be it with many problems that could be called egomania, and he can read the tarot cards of where this is heading… Read more »
Guest

Re: ‘Fools’…a ‘magyarok’…

I’m afraid I do not know who these people are any more who have appeared to give up their intelligence to dabble in stupidities that eat at the society and culture they live in. Are they living in some sort of an ‘animal farm’ or something? They seem to be looking to a leader or leaders who are escorting them down to a conceivable road of ruin. I ask fitfully: who are these Magyars? They look like snowballs going through hell.

And regarding ‘walls’, if history is a guide they work for a time but events take advantage to the extent that ‘mortar’ cannot keep out inevitabilities. The Emperor Hadrian at one time thought he had the Picts bagged in to their own hills, valleys and mountains to stop their predations into ‘Roman’ Britain. Worked for awhile but Rome just couldn’t handle them. After that it was retreat and deal with the realities. Magyarorszag may be looking at the same lesson in the 21st.

Guest

It is frightening that the Hungarian population decreased 8% since 1981. However I don’t see the slightest miniscule chance to properly integrate immigrants in Hungary especially millions of them. One thing that there are many bad examples that even the second or third generation of immigrants don’t feel home in their new country e.g. France or Netherlands and going back to ISIS to find their real roots. Second, that we are not even able to integrate gipsies into our society who has been with us for many hundred years so I am not positive integrating guys from Syria, Eritrea and Somalia. Anyone does? So talking about immigrants replacing the missing Hungarians don’t feel realistic to me to say the least.

petofi
Guest

“…not even able to integrate gypsies…”

Does it not occur to people that mainstream gypsies DO NOT want to be integrated?

Member

The Roma IS the society. They don’t need to be integrated. African Americans didn’t need to be integrated into the American society either.

Try helping the poor and hold up the law equally. Oh, wait, that costs money …

spectator
Guest
Wit due respect, I would like to call your attention the fact that the gypsies fully integrated, but not assimilated in Hungary. Likewise the Seklers in Romania, just to name an example. In my over 25 years of experience living abroad led me to the conclusion that the reason what drives second- or third generations of immigrants back to their cultural roots is mostly due to their hopeless existential situation. When there is no jobs, there is no way someone can ‘integrate’, let alone feel home and be part of that society which turning away from them. Many times even properly educated and fully competent people unable to get the work what they qualified for, because of a strange name, or different hue of their skin. Apart from a handful zealots, the main reason for turning to the extremists is that maybe the first time they ‘needed’ and ‘valued’ somewhere finally, and the hell with the Western way… Not entirely unlike from the Jobbik supporters in Hungary, if you consider it. Of course, Hungary can choose not to replace the missing people with someone from the outside, but pretty soon there just won’t be enough people to keep the country… Read more »
Guest

I beg to differ because if they fully integrated it is so much of a secret that even the Pope hasn’t heard about it: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2875019/Get-job-Pope-urges-Roma-gypsies-calls-integrate-civic-society.html . btw I consider it as a shame to all governments in Hungary that they could not work out a program to help those less fortunate to become more valuable members of the society. Off topic but relying Roma leaders like Farkas Florian is a sure way to maintain the existing dire state.

spectator
Guest

Obviously we’re discussing semantics here – I started it, I admit – and the conclusion isn’t in the favour of the Pope either, not to mention a few more.

In my interpretation ‘integration’ means that that a certain group we’re talking about is part of the social structure, being able to participate of every aspect of it, go to school, practice religion, use a language, vote, etc.

What people often – in my opinion mistakenly – demand from the Romani, say, the gypsy people is that they should became undistinguishable of the others in clothing, behaviour and culture – and this is assimilation, not integration, mind you.

Honestly, I would prefer if the people of Hungary would start using the standard definitions of words – say the Collins, Oxford or the Merriam-Webster – for a change, instead of the Orbanian nonsense, in case they try to define ‘democracy’, ‘liberalism’ – if we are at it ‘illiberal’ too, – or just to be able to recognise the tendencies ‘bolshevism’ and ‘autocracy’, just to name a few.
Would make life a helluva lot easier if we would be able to talk about the same thing while meaning the same thing too, don’t you think?

Ron
Guest

My wife’s first reaction, the son in law of Orban will set up a new company, which will meet all the conditions set, and the EU will pay for it.

It may be that the Victator wants this, but the EU is paying for it.

George
Guest

Elkúrtuk, nem kicsit, nagyon.

spectator
Guest

It still valid, after all these years, doesn’t it?

Holds significantly better than the “Fundamental(ist) Law”, I would say 🙂

Guest
O tempora, o mores! The twentieth century had fences and walls to keep people in, the twenty-first has fences and walls to keep people out. 1956 November. The unbelievably emotional and generous welcome we got from the Austrians after we crossed the border – the Iron Curtain – and afterwards the just as emotional and generous welcomes in Italy and Australia! But that was then and this is now: we are on a different planet now, with developed nations jammed up cheek and jowl against underdeveloped ones thanks to modern transportation, communication, trade and the internet in a globalized world. As a result, the human rights and refugee conventions agreed on in the wake of the Holocaust of European Jewry are coming under increasingly severe strain in the second decade of the twenty-first century. It is an open question whether in these circumstances the human rights and refugee conventions as formulated after the second world war can survive at all as viable policy options in the coming decades, or will merely devolve into pious lip service on international forums, without any serious intention of implementation beyond token gestures. I suspect that Hungary’s fence along the Serbian border is symptomatic of… Read more »
Guest
In practice, Hungarians do not appear to regard as a problem the gradual reduction of the population of Hungary. if they did, they would do something about it. Instead, they look upon the emigration of hundreds of thousands of their most energetic and enterprising young with serene equanimity, if not total apathy. At the same time, they view with alarm, if not consternation the rapid increase in the numbers of Hungarian Roma, who are of course not considered to be “genuine” Hungarians. If Hungarians thought they needed immigration to boost the population and the economy of the country, the most straightforward solution would be a massive and generous resettlement program for Hungarians from neighbouring countries. As in Israel for Jews. Slovakia, Romania and Serbia would of course be delighted to be rid of their Hungarian minorities, and for Hungary to be finally closing the door on vain dreams of restoring Greater Hungary. But that would of course never work, not just because Hungarians have no wish to give up those dreams, but mostly because Hungarians seem to viscerally resent even sporadic attempts by Hungarian speakers from neighbouring countries to resettle in Hungary, and a massive resettlement of Hungarians from neighbouring… Read more »
Gabor Toka
Guest
I think the article misinterpreted the poll figures from Szazadveg, or rather, wrongly accepted the spin put on the – probably correct – figures by Szazadveg. The respondents expressed agreement with the trivially correct statements of the billboards. Because in spite of the evil manipulative intent that everyone can see behind the billboards, of course it is the case that asylum seekers, transiting migrants etc. cannot take away the jobs of Hungarians – how could they? Do you express negative attitudes towards foreigners when you agree with that? No, not even if you replace the “cannot” with “should not”. Do you express support for the billboard campaign (as the Szazadveg spin alleges)? Of course not. The fun part of this misinterpretation is that you believe that the figures support the government’s campaign because you think they have to if Szazadveg published them. But no, they do not. Szazadveg was supposed to come up with figures that give support to the campaign and they presumably tried hard and long. They presumably asked dozens of questions. And the nothingness that they published is the best propaganda line that they could come up with. I am not saying that there are no plenty… Read more »
Webber
Guest

The last measurements of xenophobia levels in Europe I saw, long before this campaign, showed Hungary had an extremely high percentage of extremely xenophobic people in comparison with other EU countries, with the exception of Greece and Bulgaria which were also outliers.
So I fear Szazadveg might be right, though I agree that they (obviously) twist data to the point even of lying.
http://www.dw.de/eu-report-finds-rampant-racism-xenophobia-in-hungary/a-18505689

Webber
Guest

Some data here – xenophobia in Hungary lower than in Baltic states or Greece, higher than in most of W. Europe:
http://www.dw.de/eu-report-finds-rampant-racism-xenophobia-in-hungary/a-18505689

Sebt
Guest
“The respondents expressed agreement with the trivially correct statements of the billboards”. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there, and in your comment in general. What your comment clarifies is the insidious cunning of these billboard messages. They are in a sense “trivially correct”; what some (I hope many) people object to is that this trivial message is treated as one that needs to be shouted (almost literally) from the rooftops – in a language that the most logical targets of the message can’t possibly read! This is a complicated, sinister but extremely well-executed piece of performance art. (I’m filing it away as an example to help me eventually understand some deeply complicated, but I think brilliant ideas on the relationship between ideology and performative tautologies, by Zizek). It works by constituting the reader as someone who needs to be told the message. It’s designed to evoke a reaction that, even further, “sorts the wheat from the chaff”. If you react to it as someone who does need to be told these things (to reassure you that a strongman somewhere shares your anxieties about floods of immigrants, and their goddamned Communist SocLib domestic allies), then you are… Read more »
Guest

@Sebt:

Thanks for your clear reasoning!

There’s an article in the Budapest Business Journal that describes also in scathing terms the idiocy of Fidesz re immigrants:
http://bbj.hu/opinion/hilarious-billboards-are-no-laughing-matter_99559

Sebt
Guest

Thank you for the link (and the complient!). Interesting article.

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