The humanitarian efforts from both Poland and Hungary, which have received the overwhelming majority of refugees fleeing Ukraine, have been praised by the German-language Swiss magazine Die Weltwoche following Vice-President of the European Commission Margaritis Skinas’ visit to Budapest.
The EU commissioner visited the Hungarian-Ukrainian border to engage with aid workers and refugees, and following a meeting with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in Budapest, she told reporters that “Hungary is on the right side of history.”
Die Weltwoche agrees, explaining in its article entitled “Humanity in Hungary and Poland” that the European Union owes a debt of gratitude and an apology to the two nations for the slander and criticism they have endured for their border policies following the migration crisis of 2015.
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“How times are changing!” the article read. “Seven years ago, when hundreds of thousands of people crowded into Europe on Hungary’s southern border, Orbán and Hungary became the bad guys of the EU because the country had closed the border. It didn’t match Europe’s sense of life,” it added, explaining that Western media had filled many column inches branding Hungarians and Poles as racists and xenophobes.
While both countries have adopted restrictive border policies in recent years, these policies have been in line with European Union law, which obliges member states with EU external borders to protect themselves against illegal immigration. EU law also requires those in need of protection to be granted asylum — for example, if there is a war in their own country.
This is exactly what Poland and Hungary, and indeed the other Central European countries neighboring Ukraine, have been doing in the most generous way possible. Die Weltwoche explains that EU law has clearly been applied in both Hungary and Poland’s border policies of the last few years, and now in its welcoming of refugees from a neighboring country.
“The EU owes them an apology for the wild attacks at the time. Poland and Hungary have saved Europe from total undermining refugee policy with its arguments and actions,” the tabloid writes, emphasizing that the immigration wave of 2015-16 was largely economically motivated, with most people simply longing for a better life in rich Europe.