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Border fence debate rolls on

June 22nd, 2015

The press and the internet are awash with highly diverging opinions about the government’s plan to build a fence along the border with Serbia, in order to curb the continuing wave of migration directed from the Balkans towards Hungary and ultimately to the West. Opinions vary from approving the project to branding it as a cynical propaganda move.

In Népszabadság, Miklós Hargitai remarks that the planned fence will divide Hungary from Hungarians living in northern Serbia and thus contradict the unanimously approved achievements of uniting Hungarians across borders. History proves that it is easier to separate ethnic Hungarians than to dismantle the barriers separating them, he warns.

In Kettős Mérce, András Jámbor says migrants will certainly circumvent the physical obstacle which  and thus the alleged twenty billion forints to be spent on it as well as the expenses of its maintenance and surveillance will be squandered.

On 444, Márton Bede argues that migrants will be able to climb over the wall to be built along the border, they may dig tunnels under it and find other smart solutions to get on the other side, just as Hungarians used to devise their own imaginative ways to get across the Iron Curtain before the regime change.

On Cink, László Szily agrees that the migrants will not be stopped by the wall, and therefore is convinced that it is nothing but “a 175 kilometre long electoral poster”. He goes so far as to compare PM Orbán to one time communist ruler Mátyás Rákosi, or even worse, since Mr Orbán is not compelled by an occupying foreign power to build an Iron Curtain.

On Válasz, István Dévényi thinks it is hard to deny that something has to be done. He acknowledges that a security fence may not be the best solution although he is inclined to support the idea. What he doesn’t approve of is the so-called national consultation on migration, which is still underway although the decision seems to have been taken. Nor does he approve of the billboard campaign on immigration which he thinks is in “bad taste.”

On the same opinion site, András Zsuppán rejects a comparison by LMP chairman András Schiffer between the border fence and the barrier erected by Israel along the West Bank. Zsuppán believes it should rather be compared to other obstacles to migrants, like the ones built by Spain along the Moroccan border, or the one erected by Bulgaria along its border with Turkey, or the long wall along the border between the United States and Mexico. All these fences were erected by democratic governments which were compelled to try and stop mass migration.

On Mandiner, Bence Pintér points to statistics showing that over the past thirty days between 275 and 613 people were stopped daily while crossing illegally into Hungary. All in all over fifty thousand migrants have arrived in Hungary since the beginning of the year – just as many as Greece or Italy have had to cope with. Pintér could accept a fence built along the border with Serbia, but only in case Hungary volunteers to host a certain number of refugees defined as such by the United Nations.

In Magyar Nemzet, Szabolcs Szerető claims that what he calls the loose and liberal immigration policies and the resulting multicultural model pursued by Europe over the past decades have been a failure. The ever-increasing wave of immigration threatens to redraw Europe’s cultural profile and to create parallel societies which provoke unmanageable conflicts. Europe should do something to prevent that, and as long as it doesn’t, individual countries will continue to act alone and try to protect their own interests.

In Kommentár, environmentalist and sociologist András Lányi lambasts liberals who oppose any measures to curb immigration, and who believe that people have the right to settle wherever they wish regardless of how the political communities living in a given area feel about that. He finds that approach mistaken in an era when we are witnessing the largest migration wave in the history of mankind, which might easily, he believes wipe the characteristic civilisation of the European subcontinent off the face of the earth. The principles of individual self-determination and the belief in the universal nature of human rights, which pro-immigration liberals invoke will also disappear with it, Lányi warns.

In Magyar Hírlap, Zsolt Bayer uses practically the same words in predicting the disappearance of European civilisation and culture. He believes that what we are witnessing in Italy in public squares is “the beginning of the end.” If Europe refuses to protect itself, he continues, it will be digging its own grave. He also reminds his readers of a recent threat by Islamic State to hurl half a million migrants onto Europe within a few days in case Italy opts for armed intervention in Libya.

On Mozgástér, political analyst Zoltán Kiszelly also thinks the present migration wave will shape history in one way or another. Previous waves destroyed the Roman Empire, and allowed the USA to develop into a world power, but we have no idea what the outcome of the present one will be. Europe should realise, however, that it cannot resolve and absorb all the problems of the world, and has therefore to stop attracting further millions to embark on the dangerous journey towards the north. He believes Brussels wants to solve the problem along lines that have already produced dangerous situations in European countries.  Kiszelly thinks Hungary should learn from the negative example of West European countries’ immigration policies, and should refuse to repeat those mistakes.


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