An agreement with Germany and Austria has allowed Hungary to transfer asylum seekers to the Austrian border. Weeklies and dailies ponder the implications of the crisis and the prospect of its resolution.
On Friday, groups of migrants from Keleti railway station and from several refugee camps left for Austria on foot after the Budapest-Vienna train line was shut down because of the presence of refugees along the rails. After hours of walking with police securing their route along the Budapest-Vienna motorway, the government sent buses to transfer migrants to the Austrian border. János Lázár the Minister in charge of the Prime Minister’s Office said 4,500 migrants were transferred to the frontier and admitted by the Austrian authorities. On Saturday, several other groups followed on foot or by train, hoping to be able to cross into Austria.
Earlier, Hungarian officials said this migration wave was a German matter because migrants unanimously wanted to go to Germany and when they were told that Germany would automatically receive all Syrians, they refused to cooperate with the Hungarian authorities or go to the reception centres. Many of them preferred to sleep rough outside the Keleti railway station. After criticizing German authorities far triggering a new wave of migration by declaring that Germany will grant asylum for all Syrian refugees (see BudaPost September 4 and September 5), János Lázár said that diplomatic relations are good between Hungary and Germany.
In the meantime, Visegrad-4 governments jointly dismissed the EU quota system and expressed their solidarity with Hungary. The Czech Republic and Slovakia offered to open a corridor for transferring asylum seekers from Hungary to Germany if Germany agrees to offer them refuge.
Hungary wants to stay out of European solidarity and instead of taking refugees, it builds fences to keep them out, Endre Aczél writes in Népszabadság. The left-wing analyst suspects that if the Hungarian government insists on rejecting the EU migrant quota system, it may soon find itself out of the Schengen Zone.
In Népszava, Tamás Mészáros believes that PM Orbán’s strategy of blaming the migration crisis on Germany may easily backfire. If the Hungarian government does not show solidarity and suggests that migration is an issue that Germany should deal with, it cannot ask for any help and solidarity from Chancellor Merkel or the EU, the left-wing commentator remarks. Instead of blaming Germany, the Hungarian government should provide shelter and help for asylum seekers, Mészáros adds.
Magyar Hírlap’s Zsolt Bayer finds it unacceptable that undocumented migrants are not cooperating with Hungarian authorities. The pro-government columnist thinks that migrants need help and shelter, but those undocumented people who do not agree to give their fingerprints so that they can be identified, and who refuse to register in reception centres where their applications for asylum can be processed, should be deported from the country.
In Magyar Demokrata, László Szentesi Zöldi thinks that offering help to undocumented migrants undermines security. The pro-government columnist suspects that among the thousands of undocumented migrants reaching Hungary there are terrorists and other extremists. Tolerating undocumented migration will lead to violence and increased anti-Semitism, Szentesi Zöld concludes.
Writing in the same weekly, Zárug Péter Farkas contends that rich Muslim countries have a moral duty to help refugees. The conservative political scientist cautions against accepting ‘too many’ Muslim refugees in Europe. This, Zárug believes, would be contrary to the wish of most Europeans and would play into the hands of openly anti-Muslim far-right parties. In conclusion, he notes that it was not Hungary and other EU member states that dismiss the idea of mandatory migrant quotas who strayed away from European values but rather migrant friendly Germany, France, Austria and Sweden.
In an interview in Heti Válasz, Gábor Török thinks that the Hungarian government was not cautious enough when it suggested that the barbed wire fence would stop the flow of migrants by the end of August. Another, 4 metre high fence will be completed later this year. The centrist analyst thinks that voters may easily become dissatisfied with the government if the governments’ promise to stop the influx of migrants is not fulfilled. Recent developments suggest that it has become next to impossible to stop migrants with civilized, non-violent means, Török suggests. He goes on to note that if the migrant crisis is not resolved, Jobbik will capitalize on the government’s inability to control the situation. The government has so far tried to take the wind out of Jobbik’s sails by using radical rhetoric and putting forward stiff proposals concerning migration. As a result the public has grown more radical, which undermines Fidesz’ image as a centrist party, Török remarks.
“In order to control the public discourse about migration, Fidesz is co-opting Jobbik’s topics and rhetoric in order to maintain its law and order image,” Heti Világgazdaság writes. The left-liberal weekly claims that as a result of the government’s rhetoric, public discourse has become more radicalized and intolerant. The far-right Jobbik party and Fidesz are outbidding each other in radicalism in their competition for the same constituency, Heti Világgazdaság contends. Although Jobbik has so far not capitalized on Fidesz’ failure to tackle the migration situation, it may soon become more popular, Heti Világgazdaság speculates. Despite its radical anti-immigrant rhetoric, Fidesz is severely curtailed by Brussels, and thus cannot satisfy the expectations of increasingly anti-immigrant voters, the weekly concludes.