Posted on October 26, 2023

Migrants Pour Through Orban’s Hungary

Andras Rostovanyi, AFP, October 24, 2023

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban claims to be “defending Europe from a tide of migrants”.

But the discarded chocolate wrappers and water bottles left round the ashes of campfires on the border with neighbouring Slovakia seem to give the lie to Orban’s boast that “only the Hungarian model” of dealing with the problem is working.

Most of the country’s EU neighbours have reimposed border controls with Hungary — with both Slovakia and Slovenia taking the exceptional measure in the last 10 days — as the number of migrants passing through the country has risen sharply.

In September alone, Slovakian officials registered 13,000 — more than the whole of last year put together.


Some Slovakian politicians, including ethnic Hungarians, have accused Budapest of deliberately allowing migrants to cross the border unhindered.

Earlier this year, Hungary also drew the ire of Austria and a challenge from the European Commission when it decided to “save money” by releasing convicted foreign-born people smugglers from jail.

More than 1,500 have so far been freed and given three days to leave the country {snip}


Only 10 people obtained refugee status in Hungary last year, drawing a rebuke from the EU’s top court.


But critics accuse Orban of playing a double game — letting people slip through the country, while accusing the EU of failing to curb migration.

Germany is coming under pressure with more than 250,000 asylum requests in the first eight months of this year — more than for the whole of 2022.

“It is in the government’s interests to make it easier for asylum seekers to transit Hungary,” said Rudolf Berkes, an analyst at the Budapest-based Political Capital think-tank.

“It can use them as political leverage either in EU negotiations,” Berkes added, “or in the Slovak elections”, which were won by Orban ally Robert Fico, who since sealed a coalition deal to form a government.