Viktor Orbán, Refugees And The Threat To Europe

patternIstván Pogány, Emeritus Professor at the University of Warwick, argues that the real threat to Europe does not come from an increasing number of migrants travelling into the continent, but rather from the anti-multiculturalism rhetoric of some of its political leaders, and in particular Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

As European leaders grapple with the unprecedented influx of asylum seekers, Hungary’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, has repeatedly expressed his belief that the mostly Middle Eastern and predominantly Muslim refugees represent a grave threat to Europe. Orbán has argued that the ‘migrants’ (he refuses to acknowledge that most of them may be genuine refugees) represent a culture and a set of values that are irreconcilable with the core principles of European civilisation: a Christian heritage, belief in the rule of law, fundamental rights, including freedom of expression and gender equality. Continue reading

Has liberalism gone missing in East Central Europe, or has it always been absent?

fenceThe refugee crisis highlights that it is time to reassess the contribution of East Central Europe’s mainstream parties of ‘liberals’ who are better at winning elections than at being liberal. James Dawson and Seán Hanley, experts in Central and East European politics at UCL, investigate.

Images from Hungary showing security forces turning tear gas and water cannon on refugees from behind a newly fortified border will come as little surprise to many observers of East Central Europe.

The government of Victor Orbán has systematically exploited the refugee crisis to ramp up a long-standing rhetoric of nationalist intolerance and consolidate its grip on power by passing a raft of emergency powers, further eroding Hungary’s once robust legal checks and balances. Such actions have drawn a storm of international opprobrium – including harsh criticism from the governments of Austria, Croatia and Serbia, all of which have taken a more humane and pragmatic approach to managing the influx of refugees. Continue reading

Politics, nation and identity in the midst of Hungary’s refugee crisis

industry-rails-train-pathErin Marie Saltman, senior researcher at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, discusses the current refugee crisis, and explores the politics of Hungary’s response to it.  

 


Hungarian political discourse has taken a dark turn as the refugee crisis has been enveloped with fear of a nation losing its identity.

The current crisis that now dominates headlines has shown images of Syrian refugees quarantined within Hungarian train stations, protesting for the right to safely pursue new lives in Europe as asylum seekers. Yet even before the current crisis now affecting Hungary, despite being a country with a relatively low influx and outflux of migrants, the topic of immigration has become increasingly salient with strong political divides.

Thousands of refugees have been sleeping for several days in train stations, many refused transportation onward – despite many being ticket holders. A large group of refugees have even begun to walk the 110 miles to Austria in desperation. The current situation is unquestionably severe. 160,000 migrants are estimated as having entered Hungary this year, mainly en route to various other destinations. Migrants have held demonstrations in Budapest, welcomed by heavy police presence, asking that they be allowed to leave on trains bound westward, where they hope for a more amenable situation. Continue reading