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 by the migration crisis.

It was perhaps for that reason that HVG wanted to find out from the prime minister’s office why Viktor Orbán didn’t attend the summit. The prime minister’s office rightly pointed out that Hungary is not a Balkan country, and therefore “the question of the prime minister’s attending the summit hasn’t come up at all.” Subsequently, KlubRádió interpreted the information from the prime minister’s office in a way that implied that the invitation came but was turned down. The headline read: “Orbán didn’t go to the conference on migration” (Orbán nem ment el a menekültügyi konferenciára). We don’t know for sure whether Orbán was invited to the meeting or not, but I suspect that he was because, in addition to EU officials (Federica Mogherini, responsible for foreign affairs, Maroš Šefčovič, president of the Energy Union, and Johannes Hahn, in charge of enlargement negotiations), the German delegation (headed by Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier), and the delegation of the host country of Austria (headed by Chancellor Werner Faymann and Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz), all the countries that have been most affected by the refugee crisis were present: Greece, Italy, Macedonia, and Serbia. Only Hungary was missing.

Chancellor Werner Feymann, Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Denis Zvizdić

Werner Faymann, Angela Merkel, and Denis Zvizdić of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Why am I optimistic after reading reports on the summit? First of all, because the reports show that European politicians have started thinking about finding a common solution to the problem. Sebastian Kurz, the Austrian foreign minister, put forth one plan that would create “safe havens” in the migrants’ home countries and elsewhere where those seeking asylum would be under UN protection. Here the refugees would be processed and, once cleared, would be given safe passage to Europe. All 28 countries would have to take their share of the new immigrants. Although I see quite a few problems with these “safe havens” as envisaged by Kurz, this suggestion could be a beginning to a comprehensive handling of the crisis.

Prior to the conference, Kurz told the media that Austria currently has more refugees than Italy and Greece together. If other EU countries refuse to cooperate, Austria will have to tighten its borders to restrict free passage to and from Austria. Although Hungary and Bulgaria refused to accept any refugees under the quota system, it looks now as if the European Commission has returned to the idea. In fact, Commissioner Johannes Hahn told reporters that “we’re going to have a quota settlement approach, and in light of recent developments, I believe all 28 member states are now ready to accept and approve that.” Does this mean that Viktor Orbán behind the scenes changed his mind and that all his saber rattling is for home consumption only? It looks that way.

Chancellor Faymann had just finished telling the other European leaders that there was an urgent need to do something about human traffickers when the news came that at least 20 refugees but perhaps as many as 50 had been found dead in a truck just a few miles away.

The story as it is unfolding is complicated. The truck itself belonged at one point to a meat processing plant, Hyza, located close to Žilina/Zsolna in northern Slovakia. It was one of 21 trucks the company sold to somebody in Slovakia who then resold it to a Hungarian company in Budapest called MasterMobilKer Kft., established in 2011 but by now defunct. The first story, told by János Lázár himself, that the temporary license plate on the truck was issued to a Romanian citizen turned out to be false. Apparently, the man who went to the Hungarian equivalent of the Department of Motor Vehicles was a Hungarian who lives on a ranch near Kecskemét. The truck, however, began its journey in Budapest and crossed the Austro-Hungarian border sometime between Wednesday at 9 p.m. and Thursday at 6 a.m. Yet when the truck was found on the roadside this morning the bodies were already in an advanced stage of decomposition with bloody fluids dripping from the truck. Although the temperature has been very high, I find it difficult to believe that the people in that truck had been traveling for only for a few hours.

While Angela Merkel was “shaken by the awful news,” which “reminds us that we in Europe need to tackle the problem quickly and find a solution in the spirit of solidarity,” Fidesz’s reaction was accusatory. According to the party’s official statement, “this shocking event shows that the migrant policies of the European Union have failed.”

What would the official Hungarian solution be? It sounds simple enough: the borders must be properly defended and crossings should occur at designated places under the watchful eyes of the authorities. In this way such tragedies could be avoided. The problem is that it doesn’t matter whether the refugees come through designated “gates” of some sort or over the fence as long as they can fall prey to unscrupulous smugglers, who in this case, it seems, happened to be Hungarians. In fact, I heard György Kakuk, the author of El Camino de Balkan, say in one of his interviews that the smugglers he encountered in crossing the Serb-Hungarian border came from Hungary. Building fences will only increase the number of enterprising smugglers. Thus, the Hungarian government is, wittingly or unwittingly, encouraging men like the one(s) who is/are responsible for the horrendous crime discovered today. It would be time to sit down with others and come up with a better solution than the one the Hungarians devised on their own.

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tappanch
Guest

Syrian migrant’s experience in British newspaper:

Greeks: nice
Macedonians: nice
Serbians: robbers
Hungarians:
“The police spotted us and arrested all of us. I’m sorry to say the police were very bad. They kept shouting and I didn’t have a drink for 12 hours. One officer said ‘fk you, fk refugees’.

We each got asked if we wanted to claim asylum, and each of us said ‘no, we don’t want to give our fingerprint, we want to go to Germany’. The officer became very angry. He stood in front of me and he hit me in the face twice. I just wanted him to stop so I said, ‘OK I will give you the fingerprint’. Then they let me leave the jail. Fk Hungary and fk all the people in Hungary. They are so bad.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/held-at-gunpoint-by-gangsters-and-beaten-up-by-police-a-refugees-harrowing-story-of-his-dangerfilled-journey-to-europe-10474603.html

Elektrone Motyo
Guest

Uhh, so the Hungarian policeman wanted to enforce valid EU-law (fingerprint registration) and that is why the Syrian “refugee” is upset. Good. I don’t need more info.

Webber
Guest

Elektrone Motyo — thus spake an economic migrant, aki a hazát elhagyta… pénzért.
(just using your own rhetoric, as a sort of mirror for you – how does it feel?)

Member

Those who count, who are welcomed and who are able to add constructive recommendations attended the conference. Amateur and brute bunglers remained home, trying their luck, fishing!

Guest

“…Hungary is not a Balkan country…” ?????? :-))

How ridiculous.

Hungary used to be the Balkan rump of the Habsburg Empire, and I think it was Metternich who said that Asia began in the mud on the Hungarian border.

Interestingly, today’s Hungarian Nationalists and National Socialists – whether they be mélymagyarok, tősgyökeresek or bőgatyások, most often with Slavic, Germanic, Romanian etc. etc. etc. forebears – take great pride in their imaginary shamanic Asian connections (which is understandable, given that there is not too much else for them to be particularly proud of…..).

There are in fact no significant differences between the respective political cultures and mentalities of Serbians, Romanians, the Croatians of Slavonia and Hungarians, but a hell of a difference between the political culture and mentality of Hungarians and that of Austrians, Czechs, Slovenians or the Croatians of Dalmatia (Slovaks are an intermediate case).

Of course Hungary is a Balkan country! The North Balkan littoral, in fact. And it is utterly delusional to regard Hungary as anything else.

tappanch
Guest

The silent and hushed epidemic of Hungary in the 1st quarter of 2015.
(Did any journalist investigate the cause?)

Increase of mortality in Hungary, 1st quarter [1st half] of 2015 vs 2014.

Komárom-Esztergom county: 29.2% [16.1%]
Baranya county: 24.1% [11.0%]
Pest county: 23.3% [9.3%]
Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok 22.1% [7.4%]

Budapest: 19.0% [9.3%]
Hajdú-Bihar county: 18.8% [11.3%]
Fejér county: 18.5% [9.8%]
Heves county: 18.0% [11.7%]

Hungary: 16.4% [7.8%]

http://www.ksh.hu/docs/hun/xstadat/xstadat_evkozi/e_wnh001.html

Margot
Guest

We were in Hungary at that time, both of us became very, very sick. My husband had to be transported to the hospital. The diagnosis was vague,it was called a virus. Took us a very long time to get over it. At the same day, a healthy young man from our village was brought to the hospital with the same complaints, not at all usual for young people. To us it was suspicious that there was no more clear diagnosis. I would love to know more about this epidemic.

Guest

How do these percentages translate to numbers of death?
Could it have been a new strain of influenza virus – you know like the (in)famous Spanish influenza, bird influenza etc?

Guest
“Sebastian Kurz, the Austrian foreign minister, put forth one plan that would create “safe havens” in the migrants’ home countries and elsewhere where those seeking asylum would be under UN protection. Here the refugees would be processed and, once cleared, would be given safe passage to Europe. All 28 countries would have to take their share of the new immigrants.” This is an excellent thought starter toward an equitable solution of the crisis. The off-shore “safe haven” reception and screening centers should be located in Turkey and Libya, with the Libyan ones under NATO protection. The “catchment area” of the Turkish ones would be the Middle East and Central Asia, those of the Libyan ones Sub-Saharan Africa. The processing in the safe havens would need to be extremely well-resourced, fast and fair, with a view to rapidly identifying genuine war and political refugees, as well as any economic migrants who would qualify for entry into one or another country within the Schengen area. Everyone else would be promptly returned to their countries of origin, as also all those caught by-passing these safe havens. Genuine war and political refugees would be provided with temporary residency, welfare rights and work permits, until… Read more »
tappanch
Guest

NYT reporter’s eyewitness sketches on the migrants:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/cp/reporters-notebook/migrants

tappanch
Guest

There were 71 dead people in the van with Hungarian number plates in Austria:

http://www.krone.at/Oesterreich/Ermittler_entsetzt_71_Tote_im_Schlepper-Lkw-Asyl-Drama_auf_A4-Story-469323

tappanch
Guest
tappanch
Guest

Bigger brother is coming to you in Hungary (new draft bill, “public debate” on it is restricted to 5 days)

Centralized database with the photos and data of every Hungarian citizen with free access by the government.

Service providers must provide mass access for government agencies to eavesdrop on internet and phone conversations, as much as 15,000 at any one time.

http://www.napi.hu/magyar_gazdasag/jon_a_kormanyzati_nagy_testver_onrol_is_begyujtik_a_fenykepet.602299.html

In addition, gov’t plans to take away the autonomy of the Tax Authority and make it a ministry.

tappanch
Guest

A commentator quotes a poem by Attila József from 1935

Levegőt [Fresh air !] (excerpt)

“Számon tarthatják, mit telefonoztam
s mikor, miért, kinek.
Aktákba irják, mirõl álmodoztam
s azt is, ki érti meg.
És nem sejthetem, mikor lesz elég ok
elõkotorni azt a kartotékot,
mely jogom sérti meg.”

bog
Guest
While not debating the analysis of this post I think there is a fundamental misunderstanding here. The migration issue cannot just be fixed by any conference or even solved for that matter. It’s like the neverending “war on drugs” (which rendered a few Latin-American countries essentially failed states). Or the “war on terror” which given the vague definitions involved will run for ever. The underlying issues causing migration cannot be solved. Just like with drugs, if there exists demand it will be served (unless we go back to police/survaillance states which is increasingly an option it seems). If there are billions of poor people living in essentially failed states (ie. with no access to even a basic education, health care, let alone jobs) a small portion will inevitably try to migrate to the few stable and rich countries and there’s nothing the EU can do about that. At most it can do what Australia or the US do, that is it could create legal black holes, deport some 800k people per year back (as the US does now), build concrete fences like the US or Israel and so on. In other words create the fortress of Europe. There are several… Read more »
tappanch
Guest

People who received refugee or protected status in Hungary among the asylum seekers.

First semester 2015.

Refugee status: 0.11%
Protected status: 0.28%

http://www.ksh.hu/docs/hun/xstadat/xstadat_evkozi/e_wnvn001.html

tappanch
Guest

The government planned to receive 334 billion forints from the sale of agricultural land (201 billion in 2015 and 133 in 2016).

http://index.hu/gazdasag/2015/08/28/egy_eves_titok_derult_most_ki_kiarusitjak_az_allami_fodeket/

If they sell 340 thousand hectares (Lazar mentioned 300 to 380 thousand), the state will receive 982 353 forints per hectare, which is 3123 euro/hectare.

The average market price of a hectare in Hungary is over 5000 euros (see my reference yesterday), so the chosen buyers will receive the land at half price to start with !!!

Piroska
Guest

Ie. HUF 334bn printed by the National Bank (Matolcsy). Since all people who will purchase will use loans from banks refinanced by the central bank.

It’s a nice trick only Fidesz is capable of.

The National Bank finances the debt of the government and in the meantime Orban creates (rewards) a few thousand loyalists. Pretty smart innit?

Rókus
Guest

This is Orban’s war. Almost all wars are started to divert attention from domestic political issues. And they work, Putin is now way more popular than any domocractic politician.

Nothing works politically better than giving people a thing like war.

Unless one wants to look unpatriotic the pressure is just too big to really oppose the commander in chief.

See, even this blog doesn’t deal with anything else. For as long as the discourse continues (and it will believe me) Orban wins.

I can report back to my errands to the market, the piac which on a Friday morning is full of poor and lonely pensioners happy to talk. Twice during perhaps 12 minutes I overheard denigrating remarks about the scum coming to Hungary. Once, also today, saw people nodding when hearing Zoltan Kovacs the government’s disgusting spokesperson on TV2 which was on at an outpatient clinic. People love to hate an enemy which they assume others also hate. This hating together creates community. And Orban uses it to his advantage. “Who cares about corruption when the future of the nation is at stake?”

Guest

The only problem with starting wars:

After you lost them you’re usually worse off – don’t Hungarians have enough experience with that?

There’s a joke about this:

After the next lost war Hungary will be divided up completely – Austria will gladly take the West up to the Balaton and including Budapest – the rest?
Well it doesn’t matter too much who gets it, it will be divided about evenly among the Slovaks, the Croats, the Serbs, the Romanians …

Zsuzsa
Guest

Of course Orban didn’t go. And why should he? Hungarians have a solution of their own. http://hvg.hu/plazs/20150828_Ha_nem_erzi_elegge_biztonsagban_magat_itt

spectator
Guest

Hilarious!

tappanch
Guest

New bill submitted about “Emergency situation caused by mass migration”

http://www.parlament.hu/05983.pdf

tappanch
Guest

Police can enter private homes in emergency situation caused by mass migration.

Army can be deployed. Soldiers can use rubber bullets, tear gas and others.

tappanch
Guest

Parliamentary resolution blaming the “erroneous policy of Brussels” for the migration.

http://www.parlament.hu/05984.pdf

petofi
Guest

Hungary: the trendsetter in Immaculate Indecency

The Malev closing has set the standard for another country where integrity is of little value, and as disposable as a baby’s soiled diaper–Greece.

SkyGreece, has now ‘temporarily suspended’ service leaving customers–me among them–stranded, from one day to the next.

Pariah nations like Greece and Hungary should just be dis-included from the civilized list of nations.

The irony–and there’s always ‘irony’–is this: I’m now, perforce, trying desperately to get back to a country which I will eventually leave.

Greece & Hungary–criminality gone amok.

In the midst of my travails, I must smile to myself about all the commentators’ desperate efforts to find liberals and reformers in today’s Hungary, when the fact is that the whole kit and kaboodle of them are swindlers and con-artists…to a man.

HAJRA MAGYAROK!

dechh
Guest

It just occurred to me that Zoltan Kovacs the utterly despicable, vomit-inducing spokesman of the government who said that the 70 dead migrants (found in the van with Hungarian license plate in Austria) had it coming, seems to have two PHds, one from CEU and from the Debrecen University (at least this is whats’s on the government homepage), both from history.

Guest

Yes, dechh, these Fiddik spokesmen are such unbelievable idiots – couldn’t they at least shut up for a moment?
Wait at least until it’s clear what happened and the discuss how a repeat of this can be avoided, it’s a real shame for Europe and especially for Hungary.
Don’t they remember their own refugees – or should one call them fugitives?

PS:
I’m also ashamed for those Germans who call out again in Nazi style – but at least most Germans know how to react to them!
Though it’s a bitter experience to read that homes for refugees are destroyed and burned down …

Webber
Guest

Weird – he got his PhD from CEU in 2002, but didn’t finish his MA there until 2009.

D7 Democrat (@D7Democrat)
Guest

“It just occurred to me that Zoltan Kovacs the utterly despicable, vomit-inducing spokesman of the government who said that the 70 dead migrants (found in the van with Hungarian license plate in Austria) had it coming….”

A “Christian” government? Don’t make me laugh. If there is a God, then heartless scum like Kovacs, Kocsis and Tarlós will surely rot in hell.

“Hungary: the trendsetter in Immaculate Indecency”

Well… I have been down at Keleti this afternoon (and it is truly a scene to behold and I don’t mean that positively, complete lack of regime and more shamefully church representation), more than a few other Hungarian and foreign volunteers helping out the best they/we can.

Fidesz/Jobbik rejoice in the deaths of refugees because they believe it proves their sick world view but there are decent Hungarians doing their duty so it is unfair to label a whole nation the way you have done.

Kingfisher
Guest

Having been to the ‘transit zone’ at Keleti a few times – and I’ll be there tomorrow – it’s clear that the local government have done very very little to provide aid or assistance. Apart from putting up some signs (in Arabic and English) saying ‘Do not litter’ and giving access to tap water, nothing. It’s all up to local volunteers otherwise.

Istvan
Guest

I just read in Népszabadság their article about the murder of the 71 refugees in the truck with Hungarian license plates see http://nol.hu/belfold/a-magyar-kormanyt-vadoljak-az-ausztriai-borzalom-miatt-1559857 What I found interesting in the article was a passage about the police investigation of the Afghan citizens from Bulgaria who are now apparently being held in Kecskemét. In Hungarian this passage reads: “a csempészhálózat 6-7 szintből áll, vagyis a nagyhalak elfogásától még igen messze vannak a magyar és osztrák hatóságok.”

Effectively the article is saying that the guys captured are far down from the top of the gang of smugglers or human traffickers. This leaves me wondering if these smugglers at their higher levels had made payments to Hungarian police officials to be allowed to operate. According to this article at least two of those arrested were know by Hungarian police to be involved in human trafficking, why they had not been arrested prior to the 71 deaths is never discussed in the article. As I have commented before on this blog I have deep suspicions about Hungarian police corruption and payoffs in relation to human trafficking at the borders.

Member

It is also very suspicious that they conveniently find only people to arrest that are NOT Hungarian. First there were claims that the owner of the truck was Romanian, now they have Bulgarian and Afghanis in custody.

Webber
Guest

I would bet that the Romanian is an ethnic-Hungarian, and has Hungarian citizenship.

spectator
Guest
I don’t know the exact size of that horror track, what I’ve heard in some news broadcast or other its 5(five) tons of capacity. Not a big thing for sure. Into that place they packed 71 people! Can anybody imagine the situation? One more added information: the track used to be a cooler/freezer, which mean airtight! I am pretty sure they didn’t lived much longer than an hour, and died horribly! Today in Austria they arrested a Bulgarian driver who had 45 people in his 8 sq m van! Barely bigger than 40x40cm what a person had to himself to take the journey for several hours! Anybody ever considered this? When chancellor Merkel was in Budapest, the police “removed” over 200 people from a train in Győr, who had valid tickets but no valid travel documents. (I still don’t know, but I doubt they ever have been compensated.) Now the Hungarian government doing their best to criminalise the illegal entry, making much more difficult to those people to safely pass through Hungary, further endangering the life – yes, literally – of people in desperation..! Yes, ladies and gentlemen the government of Hungary, the “defender” of true christian values..! Someone please,… Read more »
spectator
Guest

I learned that the 20ft U-Haul truck is about the same size, and it’s inside dimensions: 19’6″ x 7’8″ x 7’2″ (LxWxH).
Which is in metrics approximately 6×2 meters, (I’m unsure of the height) – it provides about the same size of space to one person what I mentioned above, slightly bigger than 40×40 cm, or 16×16 inches while traveling.

Think about it!

Guest

Re: “Yes, ladies and gentlemen the government of Hungary, the “defender” of true christian values..!”

Yeah that’s a tough one to take. Amazing on how much hypocrisy is flowing around that ‘bastion’ of Christianity in Central Europe. Looks like some are following hook, line and sinker. But I’d have to think that hate intermixed with hypocrisy will eventually have to operate as developing unseen sinkholes now within the country and its political life.

There’s another apt adage here I think: ‘Rust never sleeps’. Going to be interesting how this Orban -built political architecture fares by 2018. Just can’t see how it all can stand up. Something has to give. Time perhaps for the opp to practice being good welders. They’ve got to be sharp and know the measure of the time.

Bowen
Guest
Some observations. The ‘transit area’ in the underpasses around Keleti is now reaching overcrowded. Probably over a thousand there now, with lots of women and children playing. Very little in the way of sanitary facilities. Just a few portable toilets and one tap, with men washing clothes at the tap. People lying on the floor on towels and whatever people have donated, like tents from the Sziget festival. I wonder what all the passers-by think, because it’s impossible for people to travel between the train station and the metro without walking past all this. The volunteers at Migration Aid (see their Facebook page) are collecting basic food items, clothes, and things like blankets and razors. They are also providing information and mobile phone usage to people. And a local Jewish community is providing aid. No help, food, shelter or information from the state, that I could see. At least at Keleti, the people have a concrete floor and a roof of some kind. At Nyugati, the transit area is around the back of the station, out of view of passers by, and conditions are squallid, with no shelter. The ground is muddy (water leaking from the tap available), and there… Read more »
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