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Orbán is playing a double game in migration policy

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán claims he is “protecting Europe from the influx of migrants”. However, mountains of chocolate wrappers and water bottles left on the ashes of campfires on the border with neighbouring Slovakia seem to disprove Orban’s claim that “only the Hungarian model” of dealing with the problem is working, according to Euractiv.

Most EU countries bordering Hungary have recently introduced border controls. Slovenia and Slovakia, for example, were forced to take this measure because of a sharp increase in the number of migrants passing through the country. 13,000 arrived in Slovakia in September – more than in the whole of last year.

In the Hungarian village of Hont, community guard Victoria Teknos told AFP news agency that locals were “keeping their distance” from people being dropped off by “smugglers who then run towards the border”. She said:

Some people don’t hike near the river or forest anymore because they are afraid to meet migrants.

Some Slovak politicians accuse Budapest of deliberately not preventing migrants from crossing the border. Earlier this year, Austria and the European Commission criticised Hungary when it decided to “save money” by releasing convicted foreign smugglers from prison.

According to the Hungarian National Penitentiary Services Command, more than 1,500 people have been released so far and have three days to leave the country. However, according to the EU, whether the released smugglers have actually left the country is unknown, Euractiv reports.

Meanwhile, Orbán continues to extol Hungary’s tough stance on migration, which at the height of the 2015 migrant crisis fenced off its southern border with a wire fence and made it almost impossible for refugees to seek asylum there. Last year, only 10 people were granted refugee status in Hungary, prompting a rebuke from the EU’s top court. He said in a recent radio address:

We have built both the fence and the legal barriers to keep the terrorist threat that migration necessarily entails away from Hungary.

However, critics accuse Orbán of playing a double game – allowing people into the country, while accusing the EU of failing to curb migration.

In addition to a general anti-migrant and anti-Muslim stance, both Orbán and Fico support opposing sending military aid to Ukraine. He said Hungary’s ongoing attempts to push migrants into Serbia – despite being ruled illegal by the European Court of Justice in 2020 – were failing. He added:

What we’re seeing is that people who are caught and taken away (to the southern border) are coming back within a week.

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