What alternatives did Victor Orban have to shutting down borders?



One opinion in favor of he hungarian prime minister Victor Orban is that he made multiple offers to the EU about how to handle the so-called "migration crisis":

  • "Help us with the cost!" No.
  • "So help us by taking them!" No.
  • "So we will let them through to you." No.
  • "OK, so we shall close the borders by force?" No.

It seems difficult to argue against that point.

Is it true that, during those months Hungary attempted to shut down borders, the EU did oppose while not providing ideas on how to handle the situation?


Posted 2017-11-03T14:12:26.437

Reputation: 295

3The question in the last paragraph seems somewhat different from the one in the title. Are you looking for policies suggested by the EU before the borders got shut, or alternative policies V.Orban might have taken ? – Evargalo – 2017-11-03T14:51:58.860



No, it's not true. It's an indisputable fact that the vast majority of the refugees who crossed the border irregularly in Hungary eventually made their way to other countries within the EU. It's true that some neighbouring countries like Austria tried to slow that down and that some also remained in the country for a period of time but it's not like Hungary was or is forced to host many Syrian refugees.

In fact, other countries tried largely unsuccessfully to force Hungary to take (some of) them back through the Dublin system, which Hungary essentially ignores. The EU Commission also had a plan to distribute refugees all over the EU, which foresaw that Hungary should take care of a mere 1.79% of whichever number of refugees would get into that system.

That plan was questionable for different reasons and there are objective factors that make it difficult for Hungary to handle a large number of refugees but you should not be mistaken about who was begging and taking care of refugees (the rest of the EU) and who was refusing all the propositions and not sharing the burden (it's Hungary).

Also the most common position in Hungary and other central European countries has never been “Give us money, we will help” or “Sorry we can only do so much” but rather “We don't agree that these people need help, they are not true refugees because they transited through Turkey, and besides we don't like Muslims so if we really have to we might take a few hundreds Christians”.


Posted 2017-11-03T14:12:26.437

Reputation: 24 058

4This could benefit from references, along with a rationale for why 1.79% is mere. – Andrew Grimm – 2017-11-03T20:50:54.377

@AndrewGrimm As would any answer but I have little time or inclination for that. Those are basic, widely reported facts. I wrote “mere” because 1.79% is a lot less than the 100% implied by the question (or perhaps at least 30-50% if you consider other entry points like Italy). The point is that Hungary is certainly not having to deal with the bulk of the refugees who entered through its territory. Do you have any reason to doubt that? – Relaxed – 2017-11-04T00:50:57.697

2It should be noted that the EU was secretly happy that Hungary has built a fence, despite protesting in public. They would be even more happy if someone built a series of walls in Africa and the Middle East and completely spared them of the burden of taking care of refugees. I wouldn't be surprised if top EU officials actually encouraged Orban to setup the wall in behind the scenes negotiations. – JonathanReez – 2017-11-04T09:16:39.573

2@JonathanReez Evidence for that? From the EU perspective, it's a wash, people tried Croatia and Slovenia, before the Balkan route dried up (but from the Turkish end, not the European end) and irregular arrivals through Italy started picking up again. Meanwhile, EU law is clear, people are entitled to apply for asylum so even with a fence, you cannot legally push them back as Hungary does. It's possible some leaders from countries like France or Germany were not that unhappy but I am pretty sure EU Commission officials did not encourage this behind the scenes. – Relaxed – 2017-11-04T09:35:33.207

1@Relaxed well, the EU did broker a deal with Turkey later on and they've been supportive of Italy's efforts to seal the Libyan route. Perhaps some EU bureaucrats are still supportive of the asylum process, but the true decision makers have long made up their mind. – JonathanReez – 2017-11-04T10:16:24.717

@Relaxed I've thought that's your opinion as well? E.g. I remember your post arguing that Merkel is not "pro-refugee" despite her public comments. – JonathanReez – 2017-11-04T10:27:09.417

1@JonathanReez Sure, I agree with all that as we discussed before, doesn't mean anybody approves the fence specifically. There is a distinction between sticking to the law when it comes to the asylum process and actively wishing more asylum seekers. And a fence, unlike scaling down sea rescue, collusion with dubious foreign leaders or agreements with warlords, isn't even a way to effectively stem migration flows because the goal is to make sure refugees do not even reach the border. Incidentally, Merkel isn't a top EU official, she is the kind of national leader I alluded to earlier. – Relaxed – 2017-11-04T10:36:35.140