The Economist (20150926) by calibre

The Economist (20150926) by calibre

Author:calibre [calibre]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: news, The Economist
Publisher: calibre
Published: 2015-09-24T17:55:35.694000+00:00


Point taken, Mr Orban

Europe’s migration hardliners have some reasonable concerns

Sep 26th 2015 | From the print edition

WAITING patiently inside Vienna’s Hauptbahnhof station for the train that will carry her to Munich, Delima Ibrahim, a friendly Syrian who looks younger than her 19 years, describes her family’s arduous journey to Europe. One month ago, along with the brother dozing peacefully beside her and an uncle, Ms Ibrahim fled a surge in fighting in northern Syria to reach the Turkish port of Izmir. After sailing to Greece the trio trekked up through the Balkans, only to be bused around from country to country, victims of the beggar-thy-neighbour border policies imposed by several European governments this month after Germany imposed controls on its frontier with Austria. Things are calmer now. Yet Ms Ibrahim will not linger in Germany; having heard about its recent policy reversals she fears a clampdown on refugees is coming. Her final destination is Sweden.

The chaos of the Ibrahims’ journey plays neatly into the hands of Viktor Orban, Hungary’s prime minister and Europe’s chief pantomime villain. Mr Orban loves poking the bien-pensants of Brussels with his celebration of “illiberal” values and his vows to protect Europe from criminal Muslim hordes. But he also makes points that officials struggle to gainsay.

Hungary, reckons Mr Orban, is the victim of incompetence and bad decisions at both ends of Europe’s main migratory route. If Greece protected its border with Turkey properly and registered arrivals as the law says it must, Hungary and other countries further up the trail would not have to deal with streams of migrants who only want to pass through. If Germany had a consistent approach rather than apparently opening its doors one day and tightening its borders the next, fewer migrants would make the journey in the first place, central Europe would avoid the domino effect of border controls—and Ms Ibrahim and thousands like her would not be bounced around like pinballs.

Mr Orban is a cynical rabble-rouser who cheerfully flirts with outright racism. And yet, painful as it may be to admit, he has a point. Hungary’s border fences, Mr Orban pleads, are no more than what European Union law demands: the control of external frontiers. And yet Hungary is vilified while Greece merrily nods hundreds of thousands of refugees up to Europe without so much as a by-your-leave. Plenty of European officials quietly concur. Bafflement at Germany’s vacillations is hardly confined to Budapest. And this week none other than Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, said she completely agreed with Mr Orban on the need to secure the EU’s external borders.


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