Hungary’s response to the current European refugee crisis
by Tim De-Jie Ming-Long Rudolph
Amid humanitarian catastrophes and a wide range of extraordinary events prompting compassionate and supra-political responses from nations of less destructive nature, certain European states have ultimately failed to live up to their responsibilities and properly aid those of lesser fortune.
Hungary, a central European country housing ten million inhabitants, unfortunately, is among those who have consistently hid behind excuses of self-absorbed interests and historical ideologies to discreetly ward off an influx of refugees (mostly Syrians), whose journey to brighter futures (such as a life in one of the Scandinavian countries) happens to include travelling across the increasingly isolated and xenophobic state of Hungary, whose government has further alienated refugees by erecting a newly built fence on the border to Croatia (after having previously done so on the border to Serbia).
The country’s prime-minister, Mr. Viktor Orban, has cited the protection of national interests and the unwillingness to change as the main reasons for closing Hungary’s doors to those in need. “Illegally” crossing into its territory is now punishable and a multitude of refugees who have risked their lives reaching European shores now face the likely possibility of imminent incarceration. Facing an increasing amount of international criticism, the government responded cold-heartedly: “In order to be able to protect the Schengen borders and protect the Hungarian people, as well as Europe, we had to make that decision and take that step (referring to their building of fenced walls around its borders), “said government-spokesman Zoltan Kovacs.
This, in your author’s humble opinion, is most certainly the wrong approach to solving Europe’s worst migration crisis since the Second World War. Over six million people have been displaced internally as a result of the Syrian conflict. As of October, there have been well over 300,000 Mediterranean sea crossings by refugees and migrants this year alone and a staggering 800,000 asylum seekers are expected in Germany in 2015. Mrs. Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, called the flow of refugees “breathtaking” and predicted their presence would “occupy and change” European countries in the coming years.
Instead of continuing to seal its borders in hope of deterring further refugees from entering its territory, countries such as Hungary (as well as many other eastern European states) should welcome those fleeing for their lives with the support that they desperately need. A thoughtful response is perhaps one of the most important steps to be taken at this point in time. A system of fair distribution among European countries and a general feeling of selflessness and the duty to help others should take the forefront in Hungary’s foreign policy, not their supposed fear of changing and xenophobia. Desperate times call for desperate measures.