Hungary again delivers problems to Brussels
PM Viktor Orban resists to the common approach to the refugees problem
Today, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced another tough decision of his state to manage with the flows of refugees, which transit Hungary on their path to Germany and other Western European countries. The official stated that his country begins building a new fence on the Croatian border, more precisely on its 41-kilometer sector, where the two countries are not separated by a river. “We must implement the same measures as on the Serbian-Hungarian border,” Orban declared, addressing to the recent experience of closing the border crossings with this Balkan country. However, the latest decision not only demonstrates the Hungarian government ignoring the refugees’ problem of the region, but also runs counter to the EU policies. After this decision, the two EU member states, Croatia and Slovenia, have to settle thousands of immigrants, who cannot move now either to Austria or to Hungary.
It is not the first case of Budapest’s disobedience to calls for common measures, addressed by the EU institutions. Last year, during the process of launching the EU’s sanctions against Russia after the annexation of Crimea and escalation of conflict in the Eastern Ukraine, Orban opposed it and called sanctions “unprofitable” for the EU and his country in particular. However, after this Budapest has to reconsider its position under the pressure of Brussels and Berlin. Till the latest moment, Orban has expressed interest in the “South Stream” project and readiness to continue working on its preparations. Now, in the case of refugees’ crisis, the story of the Hungarian PM’s riot against the EU policies repeats.
As an argumentation of his decision, Orban refers to the case of military attack on Hungarian border guard from Serbian side. He accused the Serbian police to be idle when on Sept. 16 hundreds of refuges (armed, after his words) were trying to cross the border and to push back the Hungarian police and guard trying to keep them out. Seven journalists who were witnessing the border brawls accused the Hungarian police in beating them. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has characterized such force treatment of the refugees as unacceptable.
The situation on the Balkans continues to deteriorate. This morning, before the Orban’s statement via the state radio about the decision to close border with Croatia, the police of the latter country announced 13,300 migrants to have come from Serbia during the last 2 days. After the Croatian government’s decision to close all but one border crossing with its Eastern neighbor, crowds of migrants go on foot through the cornfields far from the main roads. Croatian PM Zoran Milanovic has stated that his country won’t close its borders, but its capacities to receive more migrants are exhausted. All the Croatian authorities can do is to let the refugees pass to the Slovenian and, primarily, Hungarian border. “What else can we do? You are welcome in Croatia and you can pass through Croatia. But, go on. Not because we don't like you but because this is not your final destination,” Milanovic said. Orban’s official spokesman answered to it: “[it is] totally unacceptable for a European country to not respect European rules just because it was unprepared… [Croatia would be] set back by many years [in its efforts to join the EU's Schengen zone].”
Orban’s tough position on the refugees’ crisis, his statements against the EU common measures, and the latest decisions to close the country for the transit of migrants from Middle East to Western Europe vividly indicate him and his policy as far-conservative and nationalist, together with positions on other economic, cultural, and humanitarian issues. He is in office since 2010, when his right-wing party “Fidesz” has won the
elections, and during this time he widened the government’s powers by the new Constitution, changed the election system, and hinted to territorial pretensions to neighbors, including near-border parts of Ukrainian Zakarpattia region. Orban policy is partly supported by the “Jobbik”, the far right Hungarian nationalist party, which leaders strongly speak in favor of Putin’s policy and have visited annexed Crimea during the fake “referendum” of March 16, 2014. The Hungarian PM seems to be rather a toughie for Brussels not only in the current crisis, but also considering connections with Russia and other problematic issues-to-come.
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