Orbán: Hungary’s anti-immigration billboards are “mildly worded”

In his weekly Friday morning interview with the state-run Kossuth Rádió, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán asserted that the government’s openly xenophobic and highly controversial billboards telling immigrants to respect the country’s culture, not to steal the jobs of ethnic Hungarians and not to break the law are actually “mild” in tone. “They emphasize that Hungary is an open and friendly country. They don’t say that one cannot come here, but simply that our laws have to be respected,” noted Mr. Orbán. The prime minister then claimed that the billboards were aimed primarily at human traffickers and “economic migrants.” The government has been demonizing the latter group for the past several months.

“Hungary is a place that they must avoid,” added the prime minister. He also noted that the majority of the Hungarian population believes that mass immigration, as such, is both dangerous and unrealistic, and that those who oppose the government’s plans and message are part of a small minority of “liberal intellectuals” who tend to “completely stand opposed to life experience.” Next Wednesday, the Fidesz-KDNP government will discuss proposals on how to handle the influx of refugees and migrants arriving to Hungary transiting through Serbia,  who are in large part fleeing conflict in Syria and Afghanistan. One proposal that Prime Minister Orbán confirmed is on the table is to completely seal the country’s southern border.  Earlier this week, György Nógrádi, a national security strategist, recommended on public television that the government erect a barbed wire fence along the border with Serbia, noting as a precedent a similar barrier constructed along the border between Bulgaria and Turkey. Liberal news sites such as Index, referred to this as a new “iron fence.”

Prime Minister Orbán said that his preference was for the European Union to establish reception and processing centres outside of its borders, where all arrivals would be kept, and which would give member states the option of allowing some of these refugees on their territory. Additionally, Hungary and Serbia will hold a summit in July, and the issue of illegal migration will be at the top of the agenda. The Orbán government is miffed that Serbian authorities aren’t stopping refugees and illegal migrants on their territory and are allowing them to cross over into Hungary.

Viktor Orbán in Kossuth Rádió's studios on June 12th, 2015. Photo: Szilárd Koszticsák / MTI.

Viktor Orbán in Kossuth Rádió’s studios on June 12th, 2015. Photo: Szilárd Koszticsák / MTI.

But what was the Orbán government’s real objective with the billboards? We know that they are not aimed at immigrants or refugees, but rather at Hungarian public opinion. According to an analysis by publicist Balázs Böcskei published in Népszabadság, Mr. Orbán’s calculated and cynical goal was to provoke the left-centre opposition and liberally-minded activists into responding precisely as they did: by defacing the billboards, launching a counter-campaign and publicly supporting liberal and multicultural policies around immigration and diversity, that the government believes are unpopular with the vast majority of the country’s population, the liberal opposition is seen as out of touch and “extremist.” Mr. Böcskei quoted Bence Tuzson, Fidesz’s spokesman, who quipped: “What’s next? Should we prepare ourselves for even more extremist action? Are they going to turn to arson next?”

The liberal and left-centre opposition does have an ethical obligation to speak out against the sort of xenophobia that was plastered across the country by the government, even if this won’t win them many votes.  The left also has a duty to actually formulate responses and concrete policy proposals relating to these issues, in addition to very visible campaigns, such as the protests surrounding the billboards. That’s one thing that the opposition really hasn’t done in the past years: they are big on making statements, giving television interviews and publicity stunts, but their capacity to formulate ideas and propose policies, and then share these with the public and explain their relevance to everyday life, has been weak.

But most disturbing is how cynically Machievellian Mr. Orbán has been on this, and many other issues. While the government’s billboard campaign may look like a grand and clumsy debacle from abroad, in Hungary it is entirely possible (and likely) that the average voter will see Fidesz as the defender of order, jobs and national culture from shadowy foreigners who lurk in their midst, while the opposition will be seen as out-of-touch idealistic and weak-kneed liberals on the fringe, who would cause chaos and disorder if ever allowed back to power.

21 Comments

  1. Gyula Bognar, Jr. says:

    CHRIS:
    Your last paragraph is excellent, par none.
    Just the conclusion, if I may – The majority of the population in Hungary goes along with the thinking as described, even when they know it is not 100% right.
    Hungarians are not democratically minded, they make their own rules, so they give themselves a large leeway from the proper way of thinking and still believe that it is all right to be a little wrong.
    Hungarians have never heard our proverb: “There is no such thing as being little pregnant.”

    • Christopher Adam says:

      Thanks, Gyula! I am afraid that small-mindedness is very much the order of the day.

    • ” ……thinking and still believe that it is all right to be a little wrong.”

      Thinking? They are actually proud of it. It equals ingenuity and resourcefulness in their eyes.

  2. Miklos Banfi says:

    Our dear moron prezi, what are you on?
    The small minority of “liberal intellectuals” who tend to “completely stand opposed to life experience.” ???
    How?? Because we are better educated, better informed, speak other languages, travel the world?
    Józsi bácsi and Mari néni in Püspökladány know the truth watching your TV and listening you on Kossuth riado, right?
    Actually why don’t you just give classes – instead of the placards – educating refugees that they should not steal the crumbs from the left over Hungarians, what you left for them, rather go further to some other countries, where the standard of living and the prospects are 5-10 times higher. Not that they consider staying, anyways.
    Who should be feeling threatened that their job could be taken away by eg. an Afghan peasant? Most a foremost your cabinet with the highest level of incompentency? Then I understand your worries..
    Sorry, you really make me vomit..

  3. Regarding this topic, Mr. Orban has just vocalized his most revolting ideas yet. “Hungary is a place they [economic migrants] must avoid.” Who is an economic migrant according to Mr. Orban? What I see is, there are more internal economic refugees, in other words, native Hungarian citizens, within HU, who would rather leave HU than Mr. Orban would care to acknowledge. So, Mr. Orban wants to prevent the race to the bottom between the native poor and the economic migrants, perhaps?

  4. Orson Harrach says:

    One man’s “Machiavellian” pose is another man’s pragmatic positioning. It isn’t may decades ago that advisories like these were quite ordinary in the form of border advisements and handbills at border crossings.

    About the billboards, Orban says, “They…say…simply that our laws have to be respected.”

    Clearly, Orban is playing one side off the other, but also ameliorating populist perceptions within Hungary. Normally, this is termed smart politics, not “cynicism.”

    How terrible it is for an elected politician to be so…practical – huh? This is NEVER happens in America or Britain!

  5. It’s not mildly worded it’s absolutely unprofessional from the point of containing a serious question of admitting and integrating immigrants.
    Meanwhile, his following comment that it was “mildly worded” is an open threat and intimidation attempt saying not less than he is ready to go further on.
    He’s not building a fence around the country to keep immigrants away, he’s building it to keep both the immigrants away and the Hungarians in and to open and close the door allowing them in and out according to his own wish.

    His purpose? Trade! Trading with human lives, selling the chance of survival for a nice sum for those who can pay the price? Open secret, he didn’t even attempt to hide it when addressed the Arab VIPs.

    Meanwhile, the improvising mad man has simply no any idea and plan on how he could integrate himself in the EU, the international community, the Russian or even in the new almighty East empire he is picturing.
    The damage he has caused to Hungary puts an unbearable burden on the Hungarian populace that they possible will never be able to pay off and destroyed Hungary’s future for long decades, let alone the damage he causes to the EU and to the international community with his constant and premeditated trouble making.

    Violence, senseless rude power, cheating, destroying, and killing off; his full repertoire and only solution for any problems. That’s what he lives on since he was born. A born troublemaker, a born hangman.

    And my comment was mildly worded.

  6. Fix: they possibly will never be able to pay off and has destroyed Hungary’s future…

  7. Love your Neighbour as yourself.. All part
    of Hungarian Culture..

    I wish the government of Antall was back..

    Here was a real Gentleman….

    • Antall, the typical useful pompous idiot under whose tenure the soclib covered “privatizers” stole almost everything to themselves and foreigners, and blew the only chance to put the Communist leadership on trial.

  8. A message for the Hungarians before they totally miss the point.
    Immigrants can be a bless or a curse.

    When a country treats immigrants with dignity, give equal human rights and gives the opportunities to reach their full human potential and fulfill the purpose of their lives , this immigration policy will attract talented quality immigrants who will raise the country and be able to help the poor.

    Then again, when a country with a morally and mentally sick government bans or welcomes immigrants with xenophobia, discrimination, racist attitudes, and barbed wire it will never attract high quality immigrants only those with no other choices will come. Moreover, the high quality native populace is becoming immigrant to other countries. Mass Hungarian emigration to other countries.

    Orban is a fool, a primitive farmboy when he thinks he can build a barbed wire around the country with a door that he opens for the rich and quality immigrants of his own choice while closing out the others those are in need. The rich of his choice and the high quality will-be incomers will see this through, will mark his sly, untrustworthy profiteer attitude and will just not come to Hungary, or which is worse, will come to cheat the cheap magician that is Orban.

    Hungary does not accept immigrants as equal and Hungary will never be accepted as equal in the international community. Hungary wail finally be ostracized.

    This mad, mentally sick, wicked, avenger has poisoned Hungary and the whole EU. Easy? Yes, that’s how the evil works. You can work on to write book of wisdom for 30 years and for the wicked it takes only a few seconds to tear it apart and annihilate.
    Orban knows very well that cannot solve everything with force and power, yet he insist for a simple reason — he is blunt, bovine, simple minded, and simply has no brain. Remains the muscle flexing as his last resort.

    An unbearable, idiot spite.

    Yet, the deed has been done, the damage has been done, Orban has successfully poisoned the drinking water — all of our vital living spaces.

    We cannot procrastinate when it comes to detoxification, can we?

    • Hungary does not accept immigrants as equal and Hungary will never be accepted as equal in the international community. Hungary wail finally be ostracized.

      Marvellous crystal ball you must have…..may I have next week’s winning lottery numbers, please?

      • I’m not a partner for this dude. Go find someone else or you can continue monologizing from now on.

        I see you and the other out of class archaic style trolls, as a lack of better, are following the “One drop of sewage in a barrel of wine makes the whole barrel sewage” method commenting here, but it’s useless. You may try to besmirch this site, the writers and the commenters but you can’t rewrite reality.

        But there is cure for that. I apply another classic method of handling you:

        “I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.” bye dude.

        • Dick (may I call you Dick, dude?) your message has everything the so-called liberals are so loathed everywhere by the electorate – that the lack of knowledge can be compensated for by arrogance; the indoctrination that it is only their belief that is “democratic”, “tolerant” and “progressive”, meaning the exact opposite of the word; and coward fleeing when it comes to factual debate, when reality hits hard. Have a nice day, Dick.

  9. Fix: Hungary will finally be ostracized.

  10. Miklos Banfi says:

    Richard: Hungary will finally be ostracized and can start to wail:)
    Excellent points in your comment! The fact is, the notion that people want to immigrate purposely to Hungary is way far-fetched.

  11. Thank you. Funny misspelling isn’t it? My spellchecker loves to take control. But you are right. There will be wailing. And your other point sits well, too.

    You know, as I see, Orban is speculating on the fall of the EU and now following the recent G7 emergency meeting in Germany which was an attempt to avoid their inevitable bankruptcy, he goes on trolling the EU.
    Yet, there seems to be a few things he is unable to understand. Namely, he can’t go on sharing the benefits of the EU membership while refusing to share the burdens. He can’t understand that even if the EU should fall the countries the people will still live, will be there and will not forget his ugly profiteer trolling and will make him and Hungary to pay a price for that. He think he is trolling the EU but in fact he is trolling the countries and their citizens. They will not forgive him ugly heckler.
    And I don’t think he has a scenario for the domestic turmoil he triggers with he triggers with his irresponsible, unthoughtful immigration policy in a country that never had any decent ethnic policies and solution even for her own domestic ethnic issues.

    • policy in a country that never had any decent ethnic policies and solution even for her own domestic ethnic issues.

      Surely, that is why we ended up with so many Germans, Slavs, Jews and whatnot living together with Magyars, Kuns, Iassi and Szeklers. Whereas the civilized West massacred or homogenized (how many ethnicities are in France? How many millions of Irish and Scots the English murdered and subjugated for centuries; how many millions of Spanish and Belgians massacred in theor colonies) their own minorities or whomever they cold colonize. Man, your knowledge about Hungary is less than that of a fistful of frozen flies.

  12. Miklos Banfi says:

    Yes. Although I have a faint hope, that as soon as this mobster govt. will be overthrown, the Hungarian Nation won’t be looked upon as this A-hole’s country anymore. Yes, the EU. seems to be very pre-occupied and impotent, but let’s hope that they are not blind and deaf and the treatment will be adjusted accordingly.. Am I too optimistic?? I just can’t calculate how the Jobbik and the Nation will behave. I think those are very hard to predict.

  13. I see that this site has many readers but not many commenters. It is because there is a brand new much better commenting style.

    http://img.444.hu/368458_meghekkeltek_a_nemzeti_plakatkampanyt-760×506.jpg

    It looks like the Hungarians wake up and understand that immigration is a serious problem therefore it must be handled in a professional way and not like Orban does it. They understand that hate and xenophobia mongering is not a solution to a serious question that must be resolved professionally and peacefully, otherwise the whole nation will suffer from the consequences of a false policy more than from the immigrants. Hungarians see this clearly. It’s good , very promising. This is reality today.

  14. I’m glad you two fart sniffing liberals are so in agreement with one another but don’t forget that under Orbán the economy and soceity of hungary has been doing better than ever under the shady and shifty MSZP leadership.

    Please run your own western countries into the ground and leave us to run ours into the another ground far away from your paki rape gangs.

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