As global migrant crisis continues, Hungary pushes back
UNITED NATIONS — The global surge of refugees and economic migrants continues unabated.
Both the scourge of civil and ethnic conflicts, as well as the pull of economic betterment, have seen millions of people on the move to both the USA and the European Union. As countries scramble for often stopgap solutions to the humanitarian crisis, Hungary’s government begs to differ with the standard “one size fits all” asylum policies.
During the late Summer of 2015, Hungary became a key transit point for Syrian and Iraqi refugees heading from Turkey, through Greece and the Balkans and into Budapest, the Hungarian capital. But by entering sovereign Hungarian territory, the migrants were crossing the outer frontier of the European Union. Once inside, given the Schengen agreements, they would then profit from free movement anywhere throughout the continental EU bloc.
“Hungary was a transit country for 400,000 people in Upload Files 2015. Most later went to Germany,” stated Dr. Laszlo Trocsanyi, the Hungarian Justice Minister. He added, “But we must identify who enters Europe; Europe was unprepared in 2015. This is a responsibility of Europe and now there are the consequences, ” the Minister said.
During the course of one year, over 800,000 mostly economic migrants moved into Germany and Sweden.
Though the European Union endeavors to spread the migrants throughout the 28 member states, the “Mandate of asylum seekers does not work, Hungary refuses to comply” with EU quotas stated Minister Trocsanyi adding, “Quota systems do not motivate peoples to return to their homeland.”
In an exclusive interview with Minister Trocsanyi this writer asked, how do you view the EU’s demand that Hungary accept unrealistic migrant quotas? He said, “I think the decisions should be made by the sovereignty of each of the countries.” He added, “there is no international treaty on migration.” Trocsanyi was at the UN for discussions regarding migration.
Hungary’s Euro-skeptic and populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban stated earlier,“The reason why Hungary had not agreed to taking in 1,200 migrants before was because it knew that this was a ‘Trojan Horse’ and “if we allowed someone else to determine who can live in Hungary once, we could not have taken back this right at a later point.” He added, “No country can be forced to take in new people if its citizens are opposed to it.”
Control of one’s borders remains an essential element of state sovereignty. Looking back on the 2015 crisis, I asked the Minister whether his government did the right thing in eventually sealing the southern frontier with a security fence?
He surmised, “I think that the Hungarian government did well, the steps had to be taken. We are European; One of our most important duties is the protection of our Schengen borders. So when we were assaulted we built a fence on this border. I think Hungary is correct to say that anyone who wants to enter the European Union should first be identified. ”
Indeed with 400,000 persons largely from the war torn Middle East unexpectedly flooding into a small country of ten million people, security concerns became paramount. Still Hungary is a member of both NATO and the European Union.
I asked, “How does Hungary as a unique culture within European civilization define itself in an increasingly homogenized European Union? Minister Trocsanyi responded, “The Hungarians are a very proud people. The reason for this is that Hungarian history has been very stormy. The mere existence of Hungary is a miracle.” The Hungarian language remains a pillar of national identity.
He stressed, “But the fact that Hungary preserved itself was based on the merits of St. Stephen and his philosophy of creating an autonomous Hungary under the Holy Crown. Living in Central Europe, The Hungarian people have suffered a lot but we always stood up at the end.” The Minister stressed, “Hungary nurtures its Christian roots based on a 1,000 year history which is part of our cultural heritage.”
Trocsanyi stated, “Think about the 150 years of Turkish occupation, and then the Hapsburgs; we did not Germanize. When we had the Turkish occupation we maintained our religion, we did not become Muslim. And the Soviet period, freedom for us always meant survival. We always speak our hearts, and we behave like this in Europe as well. ” Hungary’s spirit is best remembered from the epic events of the 1956 anti-communist Revolution.
“Since the Hungarian people have always fought for its independence, we like to tell our opinion,” he advised, “ we have a charismatic Prime Minister (Orban) he is aware of his opinion and he tells it. Europe is not accustomed to this, because in Europe right now, Political Correctness rules.”
Addressing the migration issue, Trocsanyi advised, “I think migration has many causes. Globalization obviously. And many people risk their lives for a better life in Europe. But I don’t think it is the primary responsibility of Europe to gather all these people from all these countries. So we should not act as a homing beacon for everyone.”
He added another disquieting reality, “Human trafficking has contributed to this phenomenon. Very well organized networks and routes exist. So Hungary decided to reinforce its legislation on human trafficking. This is necessary because after drug trafficking, human trafficking is the second most profitable crime for such networks.”
The Minister called for a system where “there is Legal certainty and a public trust in the Law.” Resolve in striving for a “Europe of the nations,” remains a goal Minister Trocsanyi stressed.
John J. Metzler is a United Nations correspondent covering diplomatic and defense issues. He is the author of Divided Dynamism the Diplomacy of Separated Nations: Germany, Korea, China (2014). [See pre-2011 Archives]