Hungary. According to
COUNTRYAAH, the country became the focal point of Europe's
refugee crisis in 2015. As hundreds of thousands of refugees
and migrants from the Middle East and Africa streamed
through the Balkans through Central Europe towards Germany
and Sweden, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán led a growing
immigration and refugee resistance in the EU.
Orbán was criticized for his undemocratic policies
against the media, among others, when Chancellor Angela
Merkel came to visit in February. Following Merkel was
followed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose contacts
with hostile and EU-critical forces in Europe were seen as
attempts to divide the EU and weaken the will for sanctions
against the Kremlin for the war in Ukraine. Orbán and Putin
had found each other, and Orbán criticized his EU colleagues
for the sanctions against Moscow.
The opposition had vainly demanded that Orbán's nuclear
agreement with Putin from 2014 be made public, but now the
Fidesz government party in Parliament passed a secret stamp
for 30 years. Russian Rosatom will build two new nuclear
reactors in Hungary, financed by Russian loans. The critics
felt that the lack of detailed plans could make the project
twice as expensive as planned EUR 12 billion and thus open
to large-scale corruption. The EU also criticized parts of
the agreement, including Moscow being the sole supplier of
In the spring, Orbán raised the issue of the
reintroduction of the death penalty, which had been
abolished since 1990. Orbán seemed to want to go right when
his party lost ground in opinion to the right-wing extremist
Jobbik. The death penalty was criticized by the opposition,
the Council of Europe and the European Parliament, where
Orbán in turn criticized the EU's plan for compulsory
When Orbán arrived shortly after the EU summit in Riga,
he was greeted by EU Commission President Jean-Claude
Juncker with: "Dictator!" Juncker said in an interview that
those who face the death penalty have no place in the EU.
Orbán backed off, explaining that the EU and NATO are
After more than 50,000 refugees and migrants have entered
Hungary since the beginning of the year, the government in
June decided to set up a four-meter high fence along the
border with Serbia. At the same time, the idea was to let
the asylum seekers who wanted to go further north.
Parliament decided in July that refugees traveling
through so-called safe countries could be deported when they
arrived in Hungary. Parliament also gave the go-ahead for
the construction of border fences against Serbia. Large
police forces were mobilized to the border, where more and
more refugees arrived. For now, barbed wire was rolled out
after the 17-mile border with Serbia.
Since Germany expressed its willingness to accept all
Syrian refugees, even though they have passed through other
EU countries, the migration flow through Hungary, where few
wanted to seek asylum. In September, there was chaos at the
Budapest Central Station when police stopped refugees from
boarding the trains to Austria and Germany. The station
became a makeshift refugee camp with thousands of people
sleeping on floors or in tents, with volunteer workers
pouring in. The refugees then began to leave the station on
foot the 180 km long road towards the Austrian border. The
TV images on the refugee stream along the Hungarian
motorway, where volunteers offered bananas, chocolate and
water, reminded of refugee scenes from the Second World War.
Buses were then temporarily made available to take refugees
to the border.
Prime Minister Orbán was upset by Germany's decision to
open borders to refugees, which meant that the flow of
people through Hungary was increasing. Orbán warned that
Europe would be flooded by millions of migrants and
refugees, and he said Hungary did not intend to host
Muslims. A new law was voted on, according to which anyone
entering Hungary without a permit risks three years in
Hungary voted against the EU plan on compulsory refugee
quotas for member states. An emergency permit was issued in
the border area with Serbia, the border was closed and
hundreds of people were arrested as they tried to enter
Hungary. Refugees stormed the barbed wire fence, chaos
ensued and the police used tear gas and water cannons.
Hungary was condemned by the EU, and refugees began to
travel around Hungary to reach Austria via Croatia and
Against Romania, the government decided to erect fences,
and barbed wire was laid against Croatia and Slovenia.
Later, a corridor from Serbia to Croatia was opened to allow
the refugees to cross Hungary on their way north.
Parliament approved that the army could be deployed at
the borders and also use weapons there. When the borders
were finally closed in October, over 385,000 refugees and
migrants had passed through Hungary since the beginning of
the year. The government published advertisements in
Hungarian press criticizing the EU plan and describing
refugees from the Middle East as a terrorist threat.
According to Orbán, terrorists followed the flow of
migrants. At the UN, he proposed international quotas for
refugee reception, which would relieve Europe.
The government decided to appeal the EU decision on
mandatory quotas, in which member states would redistribute
refugees from Italy and Greece. In December, the appeal was
filed with the European Court of Justice. According to EU
quotas, Hungary would receive 306 refugees from Italy and
998 from Greece.
The government's tough attitude towards refugees led to
an increase in public support for Fidesz, while the
right-wing extremist Jobbik declined somewhat.