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Migration getting out of control

September 2nd, 2015

Pundits across the political spectrum fear that migration will cause an ever bigger problem in Europe in the absence of a common EU migration framework. The lack of a joint EU solution may also endanger free movement in the EU.

In the latest development in the migrant crisis, Budapest’s Keleti railway station was closed down, as a growing and increasingly desperate crowd of asylum seekers tried and failed to get on trains to western Europe. The authorities said the uncontrollable crowd was a threat to the safety of passengers. Later, the station was reopened, but only for passengers with appropriate documents. 

On Monday, Austrian policemen stopped and checked all trains and larger road vehicles in search of illegal migrants and traffickers, causing huge traffic jams and delays. Austrian authorities said that 200 undocumented migrants and five traffickers were found. Undocumented migrants travelling on trains were finally allowed to proceed to Germany after being held up for hours. 

German Chancellor Merkel said that she appreciates the fact that Hungary is registering all undocumented migrants arriving into the Schengen zone, as required by EU law. Clarifying her earlier statement, Chancellor Merkel said that it was a misunderstanding that Germany would suspend the application of the Dublin Agreement and give asylum to all Syrian refugees rather than deporting them back to the countries where they entered the Schengen Zone. 

Both the EU and Hungary are collapsing under the pressure of increased migrationNépszabadság comments in a front page editorial on Austrian police checks at the border and the situation of undocumented migrants in Budapest. The leading left-wing daily finds it absurd that the EU leadership is waging ideological wars over migration, while chaos on borders and in migrant transit zones is getting out of control. This complete chaos will play into the hands of anti-immigrant parties, Népszabadság fears.

In Népszava, György Sebes also thinks that there is little hope for an EU-wide solution to the migration crisis. The left-wing columnist, however, blames the current situation on the Hungarian government, which, according to Sebes, abstained from the search of a joint European answer. At this point, Hungary is left alone and cannot handle the migrant situation, Sebes adds. Quoting Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius of France who on Sunday accused Hungary of violating basic humanitarian and European principles by erecting a border fence, Sebes suggests that what calls the “ineffective and inhumane proposals” of the Hungarian government have increased the desperation and anger of undocumented migrants  heading for Western Europe rather than stopping their flow.

Magyar Hírlap’s Zsolt Bayer finds absurd the accusation that the Hungarian government violates EU law. The pro-government columnist recalls that Hungary has a legal obligation not to allow undocumented migrants who enter the Schengen Zone to leave the country. Bayer remarks that it would be much simpler for Hungary to let them proceed towards western Europe, and let those countries that criticize Hungary take care of migrants.

In Magyar Idők (former Napi Gazdaság), Imre Czirják criticizes Angela Merkel’s earlier suggestion that Germany would provide asylum for all Syrian refugees. The conservative columnist suggests that Merkel’s statements raised the expectations of undocumented migrants who now refuse to cooperate with Hungarian authorities and claim a right to proceed to Germany. Commenting on French Foreign Minister Fabius’ remarks, Czirják recalls that France was involved in the erection of the fence at Calais. Czirják also adds that if Hungary allows migrants to leave for Western Europe, border control or even fences may soon be erected within the Schengen Zone.

In the absence of a common European migration framework, member states need to act on their own, Roland Balogh in Magyar Nemzet comments on Austria’s decision to check traffic from Hungary. The conservative columnist notes that more and more parties in Europe are calling for the reintroduction of border controls within the Schengen Zone as there is no EU-level solution to issues of migration. In an aside, Balogh recalls that the same France that now criticizes Hungary introduced border controls on its Italian frontier to stop the flow of migrants from war-torn Libya as early as 2011.

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