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Orbán's Next Plan

by DoDo Thu Sep 10th, 2015 at 02:59:37 PM EST

If you think the Orbán regime's handling of refugees bottomed out morally with the situation at Röszke, wait until next week, when Hungary's recently passed tough anti-migration laws come into effect.

Until the late summer, Viktor Orbán's government had no migration policy: they only had a premature election campaign, a xenophobic drive aimed at the domestic population. But when reality struck back and not managing the situation resulted in a crisis (eventually shutting down the most important transport route of the country), the regime had to consider actual policy – and their policy of choice is deterrence. Some say the refusal of UN and EU help or the apparent total incompetence of authorities at the refugee gathering site at Röszke is a first conscious part of this. True or not, the real deal is the plan set in motion with a legal package adopted last week and coming into force on Tuesday next week. One that is both vile and impractical.

Stuff like the reinforcing of the border fence, sending down the army, and criminalising illegal immigration and any aid given to migrants reached the international media. But there is more: the practical negation of the right for asylum. To achieve the goal of turning away just about everyone, refugee processing camps are to be set up directly at the Serbian border, in front of (not behind) the border fence. There, Kafkaesque courts housed in containers are to go through the legal motions to arrive at a guaranteed rejection, on the basis that people can take refuge in Serbia which is a safe country.

This plan can easily turn deadly: if, like at Röszke, the government does little to feed and protect the heath of the waiting crowds, or if there is a crowd crush. Furthermore, the plan is way too optimistic about managing crossings of the fence and smuggling (not to speak of people running along the tracks when the gates are opened for a train). Finally, it guarantees even less cooperation from Serbia than before. IMHO the only way it can avoid becoming a total disaster is if the onset of cold weather throttles the refugee wave.


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Meanwhile, the gathering point at Röszke turned into mud due to rain, and Austria's railways stopped accepting international trains due to overloading (which is strange because police at Budapest Keleti station now limit the number of people getting on a single train).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Sep 10th, 2015 at 03:03:12 PM EST
This story is two days old but I forgot to post it. Police caught a smuggler near the Austrian border with four Syrians in his car. While they were waiting for a police transporter, a video journalist interviewed the smuggler, who proved to be an idiot spouting Jobbik's rhetoric. In a slow voice, he explained that "There are two ways to take over a country: with weapons and with refugees," and he wanted to take the refugees across the border (allegedly for free) so that they don't stay here.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Sep 10th, 2015 at 03:39:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Haha, can't all Jobbik members do that? Hungary would be free of refugees, the refugees, free of Hungary, and Jobbik would land where they belong: in jail. Universal happiness.
by Katrin on Thu Sep 10th, 2015 at 03:46:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
LOL!

But, seriously, domestic smugglers in Hungary are some of the worst. While the government was pretty happy to announce that the culprits of the truck with 71 dead refugees were Bulgarian citizens (even though they operated from Hungary), now there are several stories each day of caught smugglers ripping off or robbing their clients who prove to be Hungarian citizens. The ripping off even extends to railway employees: a refugee was sold a 'ticket' for an astronomical sum of €120 which was in reality a badge for marking damaged wagons.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Sep 10th, 2015 at 04:06:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, how do you know they are the worst? I am quite sure that all other countries the refugees need to travel through can boast of roughly the same percentage of baddies. Actually Dublin is a gigantic job creation scheme for criminals.
by Katrin on Thu Sep 10th, 2015 at 04:31:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
While I base this on reading only reports by Hungarian police, the sample includes smugglers from several other countries (there was even an Austrian who crashed due to driving under the influence of drugs). I can imagine two reasons, one circumstantial, one specific: this could be the mark of the "business" at its early stages when most smugglers are small-time or first-time criminals; or this could be a side effect of the wave of racism, a much less humane version of what that idiot did.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Sep 10th, 2015 at 04:49:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The deputy prime minister now said that the plan of those border transit-to-nowhere zones is off the table for now. What isn't clear is whether it was dropped altogether or delayed; and what is the replacement plan. Other reports say that judges expect to be deployed at the border for fast-track handling of refugees anyway.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Sep 11th, 2015 at 06:52:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I read the Hungarian government is in talks with the Israelis to purchase their high-tech fence. Oh, the irony! Is that coming next.

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Thu Sep 10th, 2015 at 05:37:16 PM EST
So if the army is deployed, are they going to start shooting rubber bullets like they do it in Ceuta? They already use tear gas don't they?

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Fri Sep 11th, 2015 at 11:02:42 PM EST
The law changes from next Tuesday include a re-definition of firearms use which excludes rubber bullets and tear gas, which is pretty much a preparation for violence. Furthermore, since the start of the crisis Monday last week, Fidesz leaders repeatedly claimed (without evidence, in fact against evidence) that the refugees are "increasingly violent", obviously an attempt to prepare the domestic population for violent interventions. The reason they didn't resort to it before (for example at Keleti Wednesday last week, when riot police stood ready to drive the refugees into a train but aborted the mission) was that the refugees failed to give an excuse (there were sane ad-hoc leaders who discouraged any rioting) and international media was present. I fear they will have an easier time escalating conflict at Röszke.

But whatever happens, expect a golden era for smugglers.

  • Based on the difference of numbers arriving at the last refugee camp in Serbia (5,000 in the last few days) and 'illegal immigrants' caught in Hungary (around 3,500 in the last two days), it seems at least 1,500 a day can pass the border fence without detection.
  • Reporters say that the parking lots of gas stations near Röszke are filled with hundreds of smugglers, strutting around quite openly, but police feels powerless because they would have to catch the smugglers in action. (Though methinks if they really wanted to, they could have registered license plates in the parking lots and then colleagues closer to Austria could stop and search cars in a targeted fashion.)
  • While the opportunistic domestic smugglers might focus on ripping off the refugees (see upthread), reporters say that the more organized (especially gangs from Serbia previously focusing on cigarette smuggling) are investing in night vision gear and network for mutual warning.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Sep 12th, 2015 at 04:41:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Sep 13th, 2015 at 12:19:04 PM EST
According to Index.hu, Serbian authorities are attempting to transport all refugees in the country to the Hungarian border before Hungary applies more strict rules from tomorrow, which could result in 25,000 to 30,000 people crossing the border in a single day. As a reaction, there is a massive police mobilisation in Hungary.

Meanwhile, speaking to policemen, Orbán himself repeated the "refugees will be violent" rhetoric....

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Sep 14th, 2015 at 05:51:03 AM EST
self fulfilling prophecy
by IM on Mon Sep 14th, 2015 at 05:58:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hungary is doing the same as Serbia: at least three trains with 2,000 unregistered refugees each left Röszke to go non-stop to the Austrian border. The entire tough guy act is descending into absurdity.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Sep 14th, 2015 at 09:02:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Currently, most refugees reach Hungary by walking along the tracks of a disused rail line. For days, official sources said that it will be closed with a gate. Now it appears that in place of a gate, there will be... a wagon:



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Sep 14th, 2015 at 08:53:49 AM EST

The latest is that police closed off the spot ahead of the wagon's arrival, and directed refugees to the nearby road border crossing. Reportedly, they will only allow Syrians to enter.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Sep 14th, 2015 at 12:10:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A short summary of the events since yesterday:

  • It seems the main effect of the fence and the law changes was to accelerate the movement of refugees ahead of the deadline, with all countries downstream of Germany trying to prevent refugees getting stranded on their territory.
  • The government did set up sham transit zones and kangoroo courts, after all, but instead of new facilities in front of the fence, two road border crossings were modified. The procedure is even quicker and even more of a sham: refugees are made to sign a document in Hungarian only which includes a passage about recognising Serbia as a safe third country.
  • Smuggling is booming, as reflected by dozens of fresh holes across the fence.
  • Still there are thousands of the more naive who got stuck at the sham transit zones, and for an hour now, as Orbán desired, there is violence: stone throwing and fence tearing vs. water cannon and tear gas. But not everything is according to plan: the refugees act from or quickly return to Serbian territory, and Hungarian police can't follow. Hungary asked for Serbian police intervention...


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Sep 16th, 2015 at 11:01:14 AM EST
Plus, alternative routes: the government of Romania is quite angry at Hungary's extension of the fence to their border, while Croatia and Slovenia are preparing for the part of the refugee stream going their way. This is a dangerous route: there are still minefields from the Yugoslav Wars.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Sep 16th, 2015 at 11:11:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here is an interesting diagram: daily number of 'illegal' immigrants caught by Hungarian police. The opening of the borders on 31 August and again on 5 September had no obvious boosting effect, but the policy change did.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Sep 16th, 2015 at 11:29:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A short note from Austria: I think the positive reaction here isn't carried exclusively by civil society. What preceded this is that the old law for housing refugees was a federalist mess with everyone in position to point the finger at someone else. The PR catastrophe of pictures of refugees sleeping in the open ultimately led to the governing coalition and the Greens passing a constitutional law allowing the federal government to overrule local objections to refugee accommodations. That was quite an investment of political capital that would turn into a PR liability if the general mood turned hostile.
At least that is my explanation why the state broadcaster runs features on the positive influence the refugees have on Austria's economy. I mean it is perfectly true that money spent on feeding people doesn't just vaporize. However that was also true when they were very impressed by silly deficit reduction plans.
Overall I'm not complaining.
by generic on Wed Sep 16th, 2015 at 11:06:48 AM EST
But the ministers of the ÖVP (the conservative member of the Grand Coalition) achieved a similar feat as their Bavarian siblings: now there are border controls, too, even though Austria won't send back anyone to Hungary (recognising that it isn't a safe country).

BTW, two numbers I just read:

  • Refugees registered passing through Austria from 5 to 12 September: 50,000 [note: this is significantly less than the number arriving in Germany]
  • Refugees passing through on 13 and 14 September: 17,000


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Sep 16th, 2015 at 11:17:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh yes. I watched the interview. I'm still embarrassed. She actually was faced with the obvious questions: What is the point if no one is sent back? What does she mean Dublin is still in effect? She says the army can control the green border while the army and the defence minister say they can't. Not that there was a way to gracefully deflect those questions...

Meanwhile there was a lot of talk about coordinating with Angela Merkel from the government. Which I read as our government fully intending to hide behind her skirts even if this means doing patently silly things like pretending to close the border.

by generic on Wed Sep 16th, 2015 at 04:37:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Sep 18th, 2015 at 06:50:52 AM EST


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