Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was right when he warned about the migration crisis in 2015, and the manner in which handled it, which included building a fence and rejecting migration, is now being seen as the right choice in hindsight by other European powers, guest columnist Christian Ortner writes in conservative Austrian broadsheet Die Presse.
“Had the European Union handled 2015 [the migration crisis] as it now does in Greece, it would have spared Europe from the rise of extreme nationalism, dozens of Islamist attacks and a great deal of associated costs,” Ortner writes.
The Austrian columnist believes that Orbán deserves an apology from former Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann, who back in 2015 when Hungary began to build a fence on its southern border with Serbia, likened the Hungarian government to Hitler’s regime because of its handling of the migrant crisis.
The Hungarian leader also deserves an apology from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who now advocates the defense of external borders, but in 2015 she claimed such a task would be unfeasible and arrogantly took Orbán to task.
Orbán also deserves an apology from Luxembourg’s Socialist-Democrat Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn, who in 2016 demanded that Hungary be suspended or expelled from the European Union for its treatment of migrants during the 2015 crisis.
The same Asselborn now applauds the Greek approach to defense of the European Union’s borders.
Ever since the migration crisis first peaked in the summer of 2015, Orbán has been advocating stricter border controls, was against the compulsory migration settlement quotas intermittently proposed by the European Union and said the solution was to create liveable conditions at the origin of migration instead of importing those countries’ problems, and potentially their terrorists, to Europe.
The Hungarian prime minister also warned about making a deal with Turkey on migration four years ago, saying that the EU was bargaining with Turkey from a position of weakness.
Nobody from the EU truly listened at the time.
Germany doesn’t want to repeat 2015’s migration mistake
Ortner isn’t the only one who noticed that Europe is taking a remarkably different approach to migration this time around. One reason? Voters have moved to the right on migration across the continent, according to the Financial Times.
Despite Merkel inviting over a million migrants to Germany in 2015, politicians in her center-right Christian Democrats are now taking a much tougher stance, with senior party member Friedrich Merz warning the migrants this week, “There is no point in coming to Germany. We cannot accept you here.”
Merz, who is a likely to run for the leadership position of the party this year, said that Germans do not want to repeat the mistake of opening the German border in 2015 and 2016.
Title image: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán (MTI/Zsolt Szigetvári)