Orbán calls refugee crisis Germany's problem

Visiting Brussels on Thursday, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán described the refugee crisis as a German and not a European problem. In Budapest, meanwhile, the situation at Keleti train station is escalating. The German government prompted refugees to storm trains by announcing its willingness to take them in, some commentators write. Others believe that with his egoistic policies Orbán will soon isolate himself in the EU.

Open/close all quotes
Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Budapest can't please its EU partners

Germany is to blame for the catastrophic situation in Hungary, writes the conservative daily Lidové noviny, defending the Hungarian prime minister: "The answer to the question of who is to blame for this unfortunate situation is Germany, and specifically Angela Merkel. Her announcement that Germany would take in every refugee from Syria triggered thousands of calls of 'Germany, Germany!' at the train station in Budapest. After consulting Berlin Hungary sent trains full of people to Germany. … But then the Germans said that the chancellor's words had been misunderstood. … Hungary is in an unenviable position. If it lets migrants into the country and thus into the EU, that's bad. If it builds a fence to keep these people out, that's also bad. If it allows the refugees to travel to Germany it is making a mistake. But it is also wrong to keep them there so as not to violate EU laws. And no one has a clue how to swiftly resolve this crisis."

La Stampa (IT) /

Fortress Hungary has no future

Nationalist and populist policies like Viktor Orbán's are doomed to fail, the liberal daily La Stampa predicts: "How many days does Orbán think he can keep migrants at the train station in Budapest who have proper train tickets to Germany, where Merkel has made preparations for their arrival? This cynical and dangerous operation aimed at concealing the fact that the construction of the fence on the border with Serbia was pointless will backfire on the Hungarian prime minister. It is just a matter of time before he capitulates. It will prove that it's one thing to call for deportation and demand that the borders be closed to migrants from the opposition benches, but quite another to put such policies into practice. … At the next EU summit Orbán will have to chose between a supposed Fortress Hungary and the loss of the rights an EU member state enjoys. Orbán will no doubt have a hard time explaining to his voters that the EU funds are drying up."

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Orbán exploiting refugees

The Hungarian police on Thursday stopped a train carrying around 300 refugees in the Budapest suburb of Bicske, and brought them to a reception centre. The situation apparently escalated after officers ordered the refugees to leave the train. Orbán is exploiting the refugees in his country to put pressure on Brussels, the centre-left daily Tages-Anzeiger criticises: "What has gone on at Budapest's Keleti train station in the last few days and what happened on Thursday at the train station in Bicske has nothing to do with overburdened state organs and the lack of a common European refugee policy. It is a cold-blooded attempt to blackmail the European Union using men, women and children from Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan. And it can hardly be a coincidence that the police caused chaos by suddenly withdrawing on the very day that the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was in Brussels for talks. The police must be aware that the rush on the platforms and at the doors of the train wagons can be a life-threatening situation. The lives of the refugees were deliberately put at risk for political ends."

Frankfurter Rundschau (DE) /

Eastern Europe needs help, not recriminations

Just criticising Orbán's refugee policy is not enough, the centre-left daily Frankfurter Rundschau writes, calling for more support for the countries of Eastern Europe on asylum policy: "Ranting about Eastern Europe's jetlagged social policy is one thing. But remembering how long German society needed to get this far is another. Just think back to the German asylum debate in 1993. Europe finally needs political management of this crisis. The thing to do now is not - as in the case of Greece in the euro crisis - to push through a given policy. What the states of Eastern Europe need is support - not just financial aid, but also practical help regarding how to deal with immigration, from education policy to inter-religious dialogue. German communities could give them that support. And if they can talk about the mistakes they themselves have made in integration policy, so much the better."