An increasing number of Hungarian expats are returning from abroad, swayed by the security of the country achieved by the government’s timely and adequate measures since the onset of the coronavirus crisis, the Prime Minister’s special commissioner Katalin Szili said in an interview with conservative daily Magyar Hírlap.
“It is quite interesting to see that more and more Hungarians are returning to the country for safety reasons,” Szili said. “One year ago, who would have thought that the world would be faced with such a problem?” Szili asked, referring to the coronavirus pandemic.
“At that time, illegal immigration was the most significant problem in the region. Though that is still an issue, the emergency and crisis brought about by the coronavirus has overwritten every previous consideration. The Hungarian government made its decisions in good time and thanks to that, not only has the number of casualties remained low, but the measures also created safety. Order and safety are quite attractive if seen from countries where negligent human behavior and late measures led to a rampaging epidemic.”
The 64-year-old Szili is a rare breed of Hungarian politician. With a degree in law from the Pécs University, she was one of the leading figures of the now opposition Socialist Party, and served as Speaker of the House during the Socialist-Free Democrat coalition between 2002 and 2009. By the end of her tenure she distanced herself from the party, forming her own Social Union in 2010 and in 2011 joined Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s team of advisors in 2011 as a member of the National Consultative Body set up to prepare the country’s new constitution.
Szili said that while such a ponderous decision as to return home was never a single-factor one, the safety now offered by Hungary was an important consideration.
“In itself, this wouldn’t be enough, but it is a hefty consideration when one decided to come home,” Szili said. Speaking about the country’s coronavirus defense, she said that she personally agreed with most of them.
“The measures brought this spring were the right ones at the right time,” she said, adding that the majority of Hungarians showed an exemplary compliance with them “I am not trying to belittle other aspects, such as rebooting the economy, which is a major task for the cabinet. But is much easier to get results in a society which is orderly and sees the measures as not something self-serving, but in the interest of the entire community, than with a mass of disorderly people who disregard their own and others’ interests.”
In a regional comparison, Hungary has the lowest per capita number of coronavirus cases and casualties.
According to the latest data, it so far had a total of 4,768 cases and 605 casualties, compared with 65,177 cases and 2,807 casualties in Romania to the east, with twice the population of Hungary. Based on the latest wastewater sample tests, a second spike is, however, expected in Hungary and authorities are already making preparations to deal with it.
Title image: Katalin Szili, the Prime Minister’s special commissioner for coordinating autonomy aspirations in the Carpathian basin. (Magyar Hírlap/Róbert Hegedüs)