Despite the EU-Turkey agreement and the closure of the Balkans borders Hungary hasn't stopped serving as the guard of Europe's external border. The Hungarian government came up with a sane and potent idea to ensure Europe's security, the only problem is that it clashes with the common rules.
According to data provided by the police an average of one-two hundred people attempt to illegally cross the Hungarian-Serbian border every day and the pressure is expected to be constant. A very recent study by the Hungarian think tank Migration Research Institute the main caues of migration are armed conflicts and economic problems, neither of which are expected to disappear in the near future. According to the think tank maintaining the EU-Turkey agreement will mean a great challenge for Europe this year.
According to the think tank maintaining the EU-Turkey agreement will mean a great challenge for Europe this year.
Migration is among the main concerns of the Hungarian government and as polls show, the Hungarian people too. In his recent state of the nation address Prime Minister Viktor Orban determined five dangers which Hungary will have to face this year: the European Commission's prohibition of reductions in household utility charges; illegal immigration; foreign attempts to influence the domestic political scene; and the Commission's attacks on tax reductions and job creation programmes in Hungary.
The Minister Heading the PM's Office, Janos Lazar announced on Thursday that the government has decided on the construction of a second line of defence behind the technical border fence on the Serbian-Hungarian border section. A second line of defence is by far not the most potent idea the government has come up with. Earlier this month Mr Lazar had a bigger announcement at his weekly Government Info press conference, where he is facing journalists' questions for two hours every week. The government decided that the free movement of asylum seekers must be restricted, they will be detained, people who submit requests must wait at the border for a decision to be made concerning their request. ”No migrants will be able move freely until there is a primary legal decision whether they are entitled for political asylum, refugee status or anything else. It is not about detention, do not be mistaken. Everybody who comes to the EU as a migrant basically comes here illegally. We do not believe just because someone comes from Syria, it entitles them to enter the European Union”, as Government Spokesperson Zoltan Kovacs said.
By detaining people with unclear identities the Hungarian authorities are doing a favour to Europe, contribute to its safety, even if the current EU rules seem to defy common sense. This is not something that Western European leaders and opinion forming NGO's admit easily.
As one might already have expected, the decision was met with harsh criticism by human rights organisations and other NGO's, partially because the idea of detaining asylum seekers clashes with EU law. Amnesty International called it ”yet another disturbing move in a pattern of demonizing this already very vulnerable group”, „a new low in Hungary’s race to the bottom on asylum seekers and refugees”. ”This is further evidence that the EU needs to stand firm on Hungary’s flagrant disregard for European and International law”, said Gauri van Gulik, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe. The Hungarian government has obviously prepared for these kinds of reactions. After a more recent criticism by Amnesty International the government said that the ”pro-immigration” organisaton ”encourages illegal migrants arriving in Europe to break Hungary’s laws”.
The main goal of the detention is to stop people from walking freely in Hungary while their asylum request is still processed. From a point of view, which focues on the security of the country's population rather than the personal freedom of the migrants, this is nothing but pure sanity. As long as the asylum process is not finished – and maybe, not even then – the authorities are not fully aware of the real identity of the migrants, many of whom carry false documents in hope of a successful asylum request, not to mention whether they have grounds for asylum at all or not. Hungary is often criticised for accepting only a very small portion of the asylum requests, but critics fail to see the very obvious reason behind that: 90 per cent of the asylum seekers disappear before their request is being processed. They are only requesting asylum to move freely in the Schengen Zone and reach their real goal: Germany or the Scandinavian countries.
By detaining people with unclear identities the Hungarian authorities are doing a favour to Europe, contribute to its safety, even if the current EU rules seem to defy common sense. This is not something that Western European leaders and opinion forming NGO's admit easily. Clashing with EU rules on security is also a matter of national sovereignty within the European Union. Where the ”more Europe” approach does harm, there nation states should step in with their own solutions. And when it comes to the migrant crisis, the European Union can hardly be proud.