Tag Archives: Syrian refugees

One of the many impostors in the service of the Orbán government

A couple of days ago The Budapest Beacon published an incredible story about a woman in her sixties who accused NGOs who are defending the rights of refugees of “subversive activities.” She charged that they have compelled interpreters to lie on behalf of the asylum-seekers. As a result, several interpreters have been dismissed. The story took a really bizarre turn when a few days ago we learned that it was the accuser herself who had falsified a Syrian refugee’s plea, from innocent to guilty.

This is not the first time that Magda Nasrin Katona has run into trouble with the law. In 2012 she received an eight-month suspended sentence for perjury. She attacked a woman walking her dog with a cane, after which she accused the victim of attacking her. Two years earlier, when she represented her foundation as an observer of the November 2010 presidential election in Afghanistan, she got into quite a bit of trouble. She was caught on camera demanding money in return for votes. A journalist from The Washington Post ran the story, including the video, which naturally got to Hungary in no time.

Magda Nasrin Katona in Afghanistan in 2010

I decided to look into Magda Nasrin Katona’s career in Hungary. My aim was to learn how questionable characters like Katona manage to make careers for themselves in Hungary.

First of all, I would like to emphasize that it wasn’t only the Orbán government and Fidesz that considered Katona an asset. Over the years she managed to get grants here and there from the foreign ministry and to pass herself off to serious scholars as someone whose experience made her a true expert. The truth is that most of the Hungarians Katona came into contact with were too provincial to realize that she was for all intents and purposes a fraud. And those who did discover that Katona was not what she claimed to be remained quiet instead of unmasking her. I’m afraid it sounds like a typical Hungarian story to me.

We don’t know much about her life and activities before the early 1990s. I assume that she has a degree in Arabic studies, most likely from ELTE. She signed one of her articles Dr. Magda Nasrin Katona, but since later she had problems writing a real Ph.D. dissertation, her doctorate was the kind that is called the “kisdoktori” in Hungary, a title that no longer exists. We know that she was married to Mohammad Yar, most likely an Afghan. Given her age (she was born in 1953), they might have met in Hungary, where Yar might have been a student. People who know her told inquiring reporters that she had lived for many years in Afghanistan and that she actually owns property there. According to at least one source, the marriage ended some time ago and Yar moved to the United States.

Katona’s published works that are available online appeared in three or four publications. One was a quarterly published by the Pro Minoritate Foundation, which was close to Fidesz. The periodical is still in existence, although the foundation doesn’t seem to be active anymore. From the table of contents it seems to be a publication that may receive subsidies from Fidesz. Another periodical that carried several of her articles was Hadtudomány (Military Science), which is the publication of the Magyar Hadtudományi Társaság (Hungarian Association of Military Science).

By 2002 some people started noticing that Katona’s knowledge of Afghanistan left something to be desired. In Külügyi Szemle, the publication of the Külügyi Intézet under the aegis of the foreign ministry, a fairly lengthy article tore her article on Afghanistan apart.

In 2003 she became a frequent contributor to Magyar Nemzet, which was then a publication that toed the Fidesz line, but at the same time she also kept in touch with the socialist-liberal governments. Her foundation, which may not actually have existed, received small grants from the foreign ministry in three consecutive years between 2004 and 2006, during the tenure of Ferenc Somogyi and Kinga Göncz.

What was the opinion of her expertise at the time? In 2010, after The Washington Post scandal broke, Index asked around to ascertain what “national security experts” thought of Magda Nasrin Katona. Somewhat surprisingly, university professors, authors of books, and experts on national security praised her to the sky. Péter Tálasi, whom I consider one of the smarter people in the field, thought that “Magda Katona is the best informed analyst of the domestic affairs of Afghanistan. Few people know the country as well as she does. Her knowledge of the language plays an important role here.” Ferenc Gazdag, a historian and national security expert, also spoke highly of her. “She has a wide knowledge of the country,” he said. Peter Wagner, a member of the Magyar Külügyi Intézet in whose publication her article was panned, made it clear that she doesn’t work for the ministry but still she is a real expert on Afghanistan. But Index talked to some other people, who didn’t want to disclose their names, who told the paper that Katona’s Ph.D. dissertation had been rejected several times because “very serious mistakes, contradictory statements, and unverifiable sources” were found throughout. Moreover, a good portion of the dissertation was merely a Hungarian translation of English-language sources. Soon after Index dropped the word about the alleged plagiarism, she gave up the idea of obtaining a Ph.D.

All through these years Katona worked for the Bevándorlási Hivatal (Immigration Office) as a translator and interpreter. Ferenc Kőszeg, founder of the Hungarian Helsinki Commission, wrote an article in Népszabadság in which he complained that “in the Nyírbátor refugee camp where the Afghan communist national security officers and the mujahedeen fighters were placed together, Magda Nasrin Katona showed partiality toward the former and did a lot to see that these Afghan supporters of Soviet aggression—political officers, party secretaries, government officials—would receive asylum in Hungary.”

Of course, people like Katona can be found everywhere, but it would help if more businesses and institutions required confidential recommendations when hiring. In my experience, recommendations for Hungarians go straight to the applicant instead of to the person who is supposed to decide on the applicant’s fate. Then there is the very bad habit of not releasing information that would raise doubts about the person’s abilities. Why were professors quiet when it was discovered that Katona’s Ph.D. dissertation was largely plagiarized? One could ask dozens of questions, but the final result is that there are just too many cases in which totally unqualified people parade as experts to the detriment of scholarship.

November 18, 2017

The refugee crisis: conspiracy theories and real causes

Before I tackle the subject of conspiracy theories, here’s a news item that should not be overlooked. On October 8 Pablo Gorondi of the Associated Press reported from Budapest that “troops from the European Union or NATO will be allowed to help defend Hungary’s borders due to the migrant crisis.” According to the decree that appeared in Magyar Közlöny, the Hungarian government will allow as many as 1,000 troops from EU or NATO countries to take part in a border defense operation called “Common Will.”

What on earth, I thought, is going on? Are there any plans on the part of NATO or the European Union to defend Hungarian borders as an expression of common will? Well, that is highly unlikely. No, this is a unilateral move on the part of the Orbán government after it managed to convince two of the Visegrád4 countries–the Czech Republic and Slovakia–to send a few policemen and soldiers to join the close to 5,000 Hungarian soldiers and thousands of policemen who currently patrol the borders with Serbia, Croatia, and Slovenia. Slovakia will send 50 policemen and the Czech Republic 25 soldiers. So, before anyone falls for Viktor Orbán’s latest trick, this is the “common will” of only three recalcitrant East European countries: Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia, countries that belong to the European Union and that are members of NATO but that do not act or speak in the name of either the European Union or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Conspiracy theories

Ever since the influx of asylum seekers Hungarians, and I think not only Hungarians, have tried to find reasons for the sudden upsurge. Hungarian public officials quite openly expressed their doubts that such an unexpected migration of so many people could happen without some central direction. There are several candidates, from the United States to ISIS.

The United States

Of course, the first suspect is the United States. The American government is pouring huge amounts of money into the project of moving millions of would-be refugees to Europe. Specifically to Hungary. The Americans, according to one theory, want to weaken the European Union, though up to now I haven’t heard one half-intelligent explanation of why the United States would want to destroy the European Union economically and politically. As for the United States in some mysterious way directing the migrant traffic to Hungary, the simple explanation is that “they hate us.” That is, Washington doesn’t like Viktor Orbán’s Christian, national government.

Israel

Lately the Hungarian extreme right’s pro-Palestinian rhetoric has subsided somewhat in light of the arrival of large numbers of Muslims who, in their opinion, threaten Christian Europe. Those who believe that Israel with the help of its powerful ally in Europe, Germany, is behind the refugee crisis maintain that it is to Israel’s advantage to get rid of as many Muslims from the area as possible. The greatest Hungarian proponent of this theory is István Lovas, who is convinced that Merkel, because of German remorse, is “overcompensating” in favor of Israel. In order to lighten the Muslim burden on Israel, Merkel is ready to take a few million Arabs from the region.

Russia

Putin is behind the migrant crisis because it is in his interest to create chaos in Europe and split the Union’s 28 member states over the issue. That’s why he has been supplying the Syrian government forces with weapons and is now intervening militarily in the Syrian conflict. As a footnote, I might add that just today the Czech minister of defense in an interview with Mladá Fronta Dnes revealed that his Hungarian counterpart, István Simicskó, told him that it is likely that Russia is underwriting part of Serbia’s expenses in connection with the migrant crisis. Russian-paid buses have delivered almost half a million refugees to the Schengen borders. The Hungarian ministry of defense, responding to the revelation, is “certain that the Czech politician misunderstood Simicskó’s words” at the meeting of EU ministers of defense on October 8.

Turkey, Iran, Arab states, ISIS

All of the above are accused by the conspiracy theorists of selfish designs. The Turks want to get rid of some of the millions of refugees residing in refugee camps in their country. Iran might be behind the exodus because the refugees are mostly Sunnis. The rich Arab states want to send the refugees to Europe in order to spread Islam. And of course, ISIS should have no objection to the migration of Muslims to Europe since it is expected that they will eventually return to fight for the cause. In addition, of course, ISIS is sending terrorists to Europe hidden among the refugees.

refugee child

The more likely causes

Back in September Liz Sly wrote a cogent summary in The Washington Post of the likely causes for the sudden upsurge of so many people leaving Syria and Turkey to find asylum in the European Union. As she put it, it is “a complicated mix of war, weather and logistical considerations [that] lies behind the extraordinary influx of refugees and migrants into Europe this summer.”

One of the main causes of this influx of refugees is the escalating war in Syria. Without the Syrians, Liz Sly claims, the number of refugees would not exceed last year’s figures. In her opinion, half of those who are coming now are Syrians. Of course, one could argue that there is nothing new in that, but we must not forget that lately the Assad regime has been suffering from a serious shortage of manpower. Therefore, since the beginning of the year, the government has embarked on a drive to enlist reservists to serve in the army. Many of the young Syrian men fleeing to Europe come from government-held areas and say that they were escaping forced conscription.

Another reason for the sudden surge is Macedonia’s decision in June to lift harsh measures aimed at preventing refugees from entering the country. As a result, a safer and cheaper route from Turkey to Greece and from there through the Balkan countries to Hungary became attractive. Earlier the refugees had to take the dangerous route from Libya to Italy. With the changing route the trip itself became a great deal less expensive. From Turkey to one of the Greek islands is only a 20-minute trip. Now $2,000-$3,000 will suffice as opposed to the trip to Libya and from there to Italy, which cost between $5,000 and $6,000. So, more people can afford the trip. In addition, the refugees are taking advantage of the clement weather of the summer months.

Interestingly, while the Assad regime has been forcing young men under the age of 30 to enlist in the army, it has at the same time been making it quite easy for young men who want to avoid military service to leave the country. “This has confirmed the suspicions of many Syria watchers that Assad has deliberately encouraged the refugee flow … as part of a strategy to empty the country of potential opponents.”

Another reason for many to start their long journey to Europe is the miserable situation in which they are forced to live in Turkey. They are denied work and most of the children cannot attend school. Many of the refugees say that the main reason for heading to Europe is their children’s future.

Last but not least, there is no denying that German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s announcement that Germany would offer temporary residence to all the refugees added impetus to the exodus. Some of the people who recently left Turkey told reporters that they saw TV footage of Germans welcoming the refugees.

So, forget about conspiracy theories. In the next few months we will see whether the exodus from the Middle East will slow or not. One thing is certain: it will not be Hungary’s fence that will stop it.

Germany and the Syrian refugees

A Hungarian-language article on Angela Merkel’s current political problems stemming from the refugee crisis was titled “Merkel is either stupid or she knows something.” The quotation is from a German source. I don’t think too many people view Merkel as a stupid, naive politician carried away by emotions. But then, people ask, why does she insist on an increasingly unpopular immigration policy?

One can only guess at her motives, but I believe her decision to stick with her original pro-immigration policy is motivated by moral as well as pragmatic considerations. Only a few days ago she harshly criticized the eastern European governments for not having learned anything from their history. “The eastern Europeans–and I’m counting myself as an eastern European–we have experience that isolation doesn’t help… It makes me a bit sad that precisely those who can consider themselves lucky that they have lived to see the end of the Cold War now think that one can completely stay out of certain developments of globalization…. A rejection [of taking refugees in] as a matter of principle, that is–excuse me for being that blunt–that’s a danger for Europe.” A few hours later in the European Parliament she was outspoken about the Christian Europe that must be defended when she declared: “When someone says: ‘This is not my Europe, I won’t accept Muslims…’ Then I have to say this is not negotiable.”

There is also a pragmatic side to the issue: Germany’s need for a demographic injection. A country’s fertility rate must be at least 2.2 to maintain the size of the population. In Germany ever since 1972 the fertility rate has been lower than that. It hovers around 1.2-1.3. If Germany were only for the native-born, its population would shrink precipitously. Germany already has a large immigrant population. Out of a population of approximately 80 million 16 million people are first- or second-generation immigrants. And their numbers are steadily growing. So, immigration is a fact of life in Germany. It is only the size of the present wave that comes as a shock to the Germans.

It is true that Angela Merkel was critical of what in Germany and some other European countries is called “multi-culturalism,” which in practice means parallel communities living side by side. In Germany this was especially true of the Turkish guest workers because the understanding in those days was that their stay was temporary, and therefore there was no attempt to integrate them into German society. In the last few years, however, the attitude toward immigrants in Germany has changed dramatically. The new arrivals are already hard at work learning the language, and children are enrolled in special classes. The challenge is enormous but Merkel is optimistic. A Hungarian immigrant in Germany who teaches math somewhere in Westphalia phoned György Bolgár yesterday and related her experiences. Some of the children have been in Germany for three months and know a little German, others have just arrived. One teen-aged girl in her class had only three years of schooling. But children learn fast. She enjoys the challenge.

Abcúg.hu published a fascinating piece on how Berliners are coping with the refugee crisis and how Germans are integrating the new immigrants. The refugees spend a few months in hostels until they receive asylum. One of the hostel workers is a Hungarian immigrant herself. The lodging where she works has 400 beds, and soon enough it will have accommodations for 100 more. It is like a dormitory but occupied mostly by families. Syrians receive 400 euros for housing and 400 for living expenses, and a 660 to 960-hour “integration course,” 600 hours of which is set aside for German lessons. The German course tries to prepare the refugee to pass the B1 language test. If he fails the test, he gets another 300 hours of language training. Sixty hours remain for German history and culture as well as for the study of the principles of equal rights and toleration, ideas essential for integration into European culture.

Refugee hostel in Berling

Refugee hostel in Berlin

Civic organizations try to link up immigrants with employers running small companies. One organizer was afraid that it would be difficult to convince German businessmen to hire foreigners, but the experiment has worked. The employers are happy with their new employees, especially since some young Germans wouldn’t accept the kinds of jobs they can offer.

Another Hungarian immigrant who taught German in Hungary now teaches German to children and adults in Berlin. She is convinced that the Syrians will learn German and will be gainfully employed. “With that much help it will be achieved. The great dilemma is whether they will understand everyday cultural differences. For example, that if their child is slapped by a German classmate it is not because he is a Muslim but because this was the way they settled their argument. Or, that the obstetrician is not anti-Muslim when he tells a seven-month pregnant woman that she shouldn’t observe Ramadan.” The teacher continues, “the Syrians are very determined.” They don’t understand how it is possible that some Turks living in Germany still cannot speak the language. They don’t want to find themselves in a similar situation.

Many followers of Viktor Orbán’s anti-migrant policy argue that it is easy for Germany to be generous because “they are rich.” But as one of the aid-workers told the reporter of abcúg.hu, “the money by itself wouldn’t be enough, you need the volunteers and the right attitude.”

The people who are helping the refugees are optimistic, so are the refugees. As am I. Eventually the exodus will slow. As for Angela Merkel, once the initial problems are solved, there will be fewer critics.

Viktor Orbán in Brussels: Success or failure?

There is huge confusion in the Hungarian media over Viktor Orbán’s success or lack thereof at the EU summit yesterday.

The Hungarian prime minister arrived in Brussels with a plan which, in his opinion, could have solved the unchecked influx of refugees coming mainly from Turkey and entering the European Union via Greece. He made sure that the world knew about the details of his plan, which he revealed while visiting Bavaria’s ultra-conservative prime minister, Horst Seehofer, ahead of the summit.

Orbán tried to portray the summit as a gathering of the leaders of the EU member states to discuss his proposals. After the marathon meeting ended, he triumphantly announced that, with the exception of his idea of a pan-European defense of Greece’s borders, all his proposals had received a favorable reception.

Yes, the idea of a common defense of Greece’s borders was vetoed, but that was not the only one that received a less than sympathetic reception. Orbán’s suggestion to set up “hot spots” outside of the EU borders also fell on deaf ears: there will be hot spots in Greece and Italy.

We heard nothing about the reaction to Orbán’s suggestion for “special partnership arrangements” with Turkey and Russia. I’m not sure what kind of a special partnership Orbán had in mind, but at the moment Turkey is alarmed over the Russian military buildup in Syria and I doubt that the European Union would want to get involved in that quagmire.

Orbán also demanded an official EU list of “safe” countries since the question of whether Serbia is a safe country in terms of being able to handle the registration and maintenance of large numbers of refugees is not immaterial from the Hungarian point of view. It is, of course, possible that such a list is in the works, but for the time being no decision has been made. As things stand, Serbia, as far as the EU is concerned, is not a safe country.

Finally, Orbán demanded worldwide quotas, which was also discarded by the representatives of the member states. For a man who furiously rejects quotas for his own country to suggest quotas for extra-EU countries is quite something. In fact, no quotas are necessary because countries are already offering to take in refugees. The United States has said it will take 25,000 Syrians. Canada has a commitment to resettle 10,000 Syrians by September 2016. This is in addition to 23,000 Iraqis. Australia will take 12,000 Syrians and Brazil 5,000. One could go on. I’m also certain that the United States will provide financial assistance to the United Nations for the aid of refugees staying in camps in the countries neighboring Syria.

A determined Viktor Orbán in Brussels / MTI / EPA Photo: Stephanie Lecocq

A determined Viktor Orbán in Brussels / MTI / EPA Photo: Stephanie Lecocq

In any case, despite his declaration of victory in Brussels, after the summit ended Orbán seemed by turns downtrodden and defiant. Because of the EU’s reluctance to defend Greece’s borders, Hungary has only two choices, he said. Either it continues to build the fence to keep refugees out of Hungary or it simply lets the refugees go to Austria. Although recent news from Hungary indicates that the fence building is continuing, not just along the Schengen border between Croatia and Hungary but also along the Slovenian-Hungarian border, I would be reluctant to predict the final move in this “fencing game” between Hungary and the EU. Tomorrow Viktor Orbán is paying a visit to his arch-enemy, Werner Faymann, chancellor of Austria, who is the greatest opponent of fences and who said that he is ready to take any number of refugees from Hungary.

If Orbán goes ahead with his current plans and orders the construction of a fence between Slovenia and Hungary, his rationale for building the fence in the first place evaporates. Until now he has piously claimed that the erection of the fence is for the sole purpose of defending the borders of Europe. Surely, a fence between Slovenia and Hungary serves only one purpose: to save Hungary from the immigrants. If Orbán decides to extend his fence northward between two Schengen countries he will be revealing his true intentions. I’m not sure he is ready to go that far.

On the other hand, János Lázár just announced that the Hungarian government is contemplating joining Slovakia in mounting a legal challenge to the refugee quotas agreed upon at the meeting of the ministers of interior despite the protestation of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, and Romania. So, it seems that Viktor Orbán returned from Brussels with a renewed determination to fight any attempt to develop a common EU policy.

Meanwhile he is playing with fire just south of Hungary. It wasn’t so long ago that the Serbs and Croats were at war with one another, and now under the pressure created by Orbán’s fence the two countries are at loggerheads. Border controls have been introduced between the two countries, and they are engaged in a full-fledged trade war. Some people with Serbian passports were turned back at the border by Croat officials. It would be advisable for Orbán to stop his war of independence because it could have serious repercussions not just within the European Union but also in the Balkans, the powder keg of Europe.

Viktor Orbán seems to be endangering the stability of the region and sowing discord among the member states of the European Union for one reason only: to bolster the popularity of his party and ensure his desire for a perpetual premiership. At the moment he is ready to pay any price for that political victory at home. Unless someone stops him.

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. For instance, it took an incredible amount of paperwork and money to send refugees back to the first EU country where they set foot. I suspect that there was a third, unspoken reason for the change in policy. Out of the would-be immigrants, the Syrians are the most desirable from an economic and social point of view. Their integration seems to be the most promising. Learning from its past mistakes, Germany now offers new immigrants help to make their adjustment as easy as possible. Germany has registered 44,417 asylum applications from Syrians in the first seven months of this year.

In Germany new arrivals who are approved receive generous benefits. Their apartments are rent-free, and each adult receives 391 euros/month and children between 229 and 296 euros/month, depending on their age. The government also provides free intensive language lessons three hours a day, five days a week. Legal immigrants can become German citizens after six to nine years of residence. Even before the recent policy change, Syrians automatically received residency permits good for two years. But now Syrian refugees can really breathe a sigh of relief.

The Hungarian government’s reaction was typical. Government spokesman Zoltán Kovács “hailed the German decision, [which means] that no one will be deported back to Hungary.” He quickly added that Hungary is grateful “even if only one-third of the migrants come from Syria.” Kovács noted, however, that “one should not overestimate the German gesture because one cannot really argue about numbers, and the fact is that migrants arrive in Hungary from 67 different countries, including Bangladesh and Mali.”

Meanwhile, as everybody predicted, the new fence was an absolute waste of money. The Serbian government hires buses to move the refugees close to the Hungarian border where they can easily get across the low, flimsy fence or, even better, they walk along the railroad tracks bothered by no one. As a result, at Röszke, the official border crossing, the lines are getting longer and tempers are flaring. This morning there was a bit of a scuffle that ended in one jittery policeman using teargas on people who had to wait outside in the pouring rain. I assume that this confrontation is going to be used to justify new, more serious measures against the refugees who are, in the Hungarian government’s opinion, illegally crossing the country’s border.

kerites ma

This is what the fence looks like nowadays

The Orbán government’s strict measures seem to be inspired by Jobbik, a neo-Nazi party. The idea of building a fence was first suggested by the Jobbik mayor of a larger village close to the Serbian border. The next Jobbik demand was reestablishing the border guard units that were abolished after Hungary became part of the Schengen zone. Soon enough the government obliged and created a force with the intentionally frightening name of “border hunters” (határvadászok). Today we learned details of this force. It will be made up of 2,000 men who will start patrolling the border on September 1. One-third of the force will consist of second-year students from two-year police academies. There are four or five such police academies in the country, and the ones I checked have only around 200 students in each class. Thus, I gather that the entire incoming second-year class will be ordered to the Serb-Hungarian border instead of to their classrooms.

The Orbán government’s latest brainstorm, that is, sending the military to the border against the refugees, also comes from Jobbik. A couple of days ago János Volner, deputy chairman of the party, expressed Jobbik’s fear that “because of the growing aggressiveness of the illegal immigrants a police presence will not be enough.” He recalled that at the Greek-Macedonian border the police force proved to be inadequate to stop the masses of immigrants. He pointed out that the constitution allows the use of the military in case of emergency. Volner most likely has Article XXXI(3) of the Hungarian Constitution in mind, which reads: “During a state of national crisis, or if the National Assembly so decides in a state of preventive defense, adult male Hungarian citizens with residence in Hungary shall perform military service.”

The very next day the government announced that it is thinking about using the army along the borders. However, as Magyar Nemzet reported yesterday, legal experts can’t quite agree whether such use of the army is permissible without changing the constitution since Article 45(1) specifies that “Core duties of the Hungarian Defense Forces shall be the military defense of the independence, territorial integrity and borders of Hungary.” Clearly, the military would not be defending the country’s independence or its territorial integrity, but I suppose it would be argued that they would be defending its borders. This morning Zoltán Kovács informed the media that next week parliament will vote on the deployment of the army along the Serb-Hungarian border. That to my mind means that the government’s legal experts have decided that there is no need to change the constitution and that a two-thirds majority in parliament will suffice. Such a super majority can easily be achieved with the support of the large Jobbik parliamentary delegation.

None of these developments is heart-warming, although at the moment the scene at the border is more like what you see on this video. The refugees simply walk through gates in the sturdier fence that was constructed along a few sections of the border.

It is hard to understand what Viktor Orbán is planning to achieve with his harsh policies. No matter what he does, Hungary will be unable to stop the flow of immigrants. The fence has turned out to be a joke. Although government officials often talk about jailing all those who damage their fence, such a response is beyond the capability of the government. Then why all the saber rattling? I assume, like everything Viktor Orbán does, it is intended to consolidate support. He has but one overarching goal–to remain in power, if possible until he drops. And, he undoubtedly believes, Hungarian voters should reward him for protecting the country against the extreme danger these refugees pose. Thus far public opinion polls indicate that Hungarians haven’t bought into the government rhetoric. The vast majority of the population never encounter any refugees, most of whom disappear from Hungary as soon as they can, so they don’t feel threatened by these Middle Eastern and African asylum seekers. Hungary is just a thruway, not a destination–unless, of course, the EU eventually decides to return “undesirables” from Bangladesh and Mali to Hungary.