Since Hungary closed its border with Serbia last week, migrants are being bused by Serbia to the Croatian border and from there by Croatia to Slovenia and to Hungary. While the Hungarian authorities are building a border fence along the border with Croatia to stop the inflow, commentators discuss to what extent the attitude of the Hungarian government is morally and legally justified.
In Népszava, Tamás Mészáros criticises the government for having declared Serbia a ‘safe’ country in order to be able to reject asylum applications from anyone coming from the south. He also finds court procedures yielding in practically all cases an expulsion decree “a sham”. He welcomes a memorandum by 120 Hungarian lawyers who ask judges and prosecutors to refer the relevant legislation to the Constitutional Court. Such a move, Mészáros suggests, should have been taken by the Minister of Justice who could have thus “preserved his – and the country’s – name from shame.”
In Népszabadság, Péter Pető complains that there has been no sensible debate about the migration issue in Hungary, and public discourse around the issue has been restricted to mutual diatribes. It would have been legitimate to ask whether the right wing’s scepticism about the ‘impossibility’ of successfully integrating masses of people coming from different cultures is justified. Likewise there may have been legitimate fears on the left that the influx of migrants will exert dangerous pressures on industrial wages. But instead, the actors have been accusing each other of stupidity, which leads the commentator to assert that European institutions and élites “are in crisis – from Chancellor Merkel of Germany to Prime Minister Orbán of Hungary.”
Political Analyst Gábor Török criticises the government for inconsistency, since after sealing the border with Serbia, it has been accepted thousands of migrants streaming in from neighbouring Croatia, and bussing them towards the Austrian border. On his Facebook page, Török doesn’t question the government’s desire to be consistent in its policies, but believes that Hungary cannot behave consistently on its own. He believes it was a mistake to hope that Hungary could solve the crisis by being resolute, while all others were out of their minds. Taken one by one, all countries involved are apparently making fools of themselves, although they would be able to solve the problem if they could only decide to cooperate.
On Mandiner, Bence Pintér thinks mutually damaging national policies towards migration are the logical consequence of the absence of a resolute all -European action plan. This is what has driven one country after another to forward the burden to the next in line. Only Hungary actually tried to stop the flow, but the result was appalling: it was severely criticised by scores of international personalities. “This is what the eve of the First World War must have looked like,” Pintér writes – “uncertainty about the intentions of other governments, disappearing channels of consultation, lack of solidarity and offensive verbal exchanges.”
On the same blog site, Gábor Bencsik ridicules Index journalist Gergely Tóth, who wrote that the border clash between Hungary and police and violent migrants on Tuesday was provoked by Prime Minister Orbán. Tóth argued that revolt can be easily ignited by surrounding a crowd with fences. Bencsik replies that those people were not encircled – the fences were just there to prevent them from crossing into Hungary.
Reporting on a similar argument put forward by former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány, the leader of the Democratic Coalition, a headline in Magyar Idők, the new pro-government daily says “Gyurcsány has gone mad.” On Friday Mr Gyurcsány accused the Prime Minister of ordering police to lure migrants into Hungarian territory and then violently attacking them. He said the police opened the border gate before attacking happy migrants, who only grew violent afterwards. However, the video he showed to the press did not feature the police opening the gate and live TV broadcasts showed stone throwing before the police used tear gas and water cannons to repel the crowd. Népszabadság did not report Mr Gyurcsány’s statement in its Saturday issue.