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Fidesz to tighten border controls

June 10th, 2015

Pundits across the political spectrum discuss a proposal by Fidesz to tighten Schengen border controls and return illegal migrants coming to Hungary from a safe third country.

Fidesz MPs announced plans to tighten control along Hungary’s southern border to prevent illegal migrants from entering the country. According to Fidesz plans, asylum seekers who arrive through safe countries where they would be eligible for refugee status will be denied the opportunity to apply for asylum in Hungary. In the meantime, Austria has announced that it will start to apply the Dublin Agreement and send back to Hungary illegal migrants who entered the Schengen zone and have already filed asylum applications there.

Népszava’s Jenő Veress suggests that Fidesz’ plan to tighten border control between Hungary and Serbia would amount to restoring the Iron Curtain. The left-wing commentator believes that the government wants to send back all refugees, even if this would cost their lives. Veress likens the proposal to the pre-1989 Communist practice of arresting and handing over Hungarians fleeing from Transylvania to the Romanian secret police.

Népszabadság in a front page editorial notes that according to the Schengen Agreement, Hungary has an obligation to protect the external borders of the EU. The left-wing daily wonders why the government has done nothing since 2008 to strengthen border patrols.

Hungary is soon to become a target country for migrants, Ferenc Kis writes in Napi Gazdaság. The pro-government columnist points out that the number of migrants and asylum seekers in Hungary will significantly increase if western EU member states follow Austria and send back to Hungary refugees who entered the Schengen zone there. If these numbers add to the increasing flow of migrants from the South, then Hungary will face a major refugee crisis (see BudaPost May 26) unless the Hungarian government acts immediately, Kis remarks. In an aside, he claims that opposition parties which  accuse the government of anti-immigrant rhetoric are irresponsible and demagogic, since they completely ignore the security, social and cultural implications of increased illegal migration.

The Left has harshly criticized the government’s policy proposals, but it has not come up with alternative suggestions, Bence Pintér remarks in Mandiner. The centrist blogger suggests that it is highly problematic that south-east European states including EU member Greece let migrants proceed towards the West, while western EU countries plan to return such migrants to Hungary if they discover they have passed through here. One may criticize the government’s rather harsh anti-immigrant policies, but critics should come up with credible alternatives, Pintér continues. He concludes by noting that the Left has so far failed to put forward any proposals on how to tackle increased immigration.

In Magyar Nemzet, Szabolcs Szerető calls for a common European migration framework. Among other measures, the EU should help its member states with Schengen borders to tighten border control, the conservative commentator thinks. Europe and Hungary should grant refuge to persecuted people, but they cannot accommodate any more economic migrants whose lives are not in danger, Szerető believes. Meanwhile he calls messages on immigration from both the government and the opposition “simplistic and infantile”.

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