Europe’s shame–Reflections on the sick, old and inward-looking European Union

Despite the fact that thousands of refugees are arriving in Hungary, the average citizen hardly notices this crisis. Although one can see Afghans and Syrians at major railway stations, the majority of people are not faced directly with the problem. And this is quite simply because the majority of those arriving in Hungary end up leaving the country within a few days.

Even though Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s communications team has built up a systematic hate campaign, a significant and growing section of society is showing signs of solidarity with the refugees. Fortunately, there is still some of the brotherly (or sisterly) love that once existed in Hungary towards refugees from the south Slavic regions, Transylvania or during the arrival of East German refugees.

We Hungarians have almost nothing to do with what’s going on. Among the refugees, almost nobody wants to remain in Hungary. They see Hungary merely as a transit country, from where they might reach their goal of arriving in Europe’s wealthier states. And from behind Europe’s humanist mask has, once again, appeared the continent’s fascistic self, of which there already is so much registered in our collective memory.

Therefore in this situation, almost nobody is who they appear to be.

Europe is not the bastion, which protects what we perceive to be our sublime and vaunted values, but is rather a player on the world stage, which increasingly likes to equate refugees with fundamentalist Islam. And Europe does this, so that its decision-makers could avoid having to make increasingly difficult choices, in terms of those who, in one way or another, want to be its new citizens.

Europe wants to hide its wealth behind walls and barbed wire, even if this goes against the very grain of humanism…a humanism which allowed for European integration to actually develop and progress.

All of those in Hungary who envision some sort of anti-Orbán alliance in western Europe are deeply confused. The increasingly evident reality is that Europe rewards the anti-immigration initiatives of Prime Minister Orbán’s government, which aim to keep his country and Europe free of the “intruders.”

It is absolutely incorrect to think that they do not support Mr. Orbán’s barbed wire fence on the southern borders of Hungary, as well as the criminalization of migration and the imprisonment of refugees. In fact, Europe is very much pleased with all of this. They think that a port of entry has finally been closed,  through which refugees have been arriving into the Europe Union in waves, all summer long.

Fortress Europe. Source:

Fortress Europe. Source:

The reality is that the European Union needs a prison zone, which will deter or detain the crowds of migrants. And Mr. Orbán readily meets these European expectations. Our one piece of good fortune in all of this, is that Hungarian authorities are unable to cope with such masses of humanity on the doorstep. Hungary  effectively remains open, the wave of migrants refugees keep coming, who must themselves locate the erected refugee camps, which are decidedly overcrowded and inhumane. Anyone who is even marginally informed will not choose to go there.

The dysfunctional workings of the Hungarian authorities convince the new arrivals not to stay in Hungary. The refugees have no intention of staying here and taking away our non-existent job opportunities. They too want to follow Hungarian youth, in their search for work and a livelihood in Germany, or other countries that are thought to be wealthy.

If the many tens of thousands of refugees who arrived this year were still in Hungary, then the sight of migrants would not only be obvious in Budapest’s Republic Square (Köztársaság tér, officially II, János Pál pápa square), but elsewhere in the city. The volunteers who work with the refugees are not trying to keep them here either. In contrast, they are pleased when they hear that the asylum-seekers have reached their chosen destination in Europe. We know that they had no intention of coming to Hungary. Family, friends and communities await them in western Europe. In Hungary, all they have to look forward to are refugee camps, where  they might be able to sleep on a mattress in the stairwell.

Those in Hungary who oppose the sight of refugees in our public places are, essentially, helping to keep these young people and families in the country. The more effective that Hungarian authorities become, the harder it will be for them to reach their destination in western Europe.

As a volunteer, I support these refugees, who would be considered middle-class in their country of origin, in their efforts to arrive at the destination that they have chosen for themselves. That’s why it is important for the refugees to be allowed to walk freely amongst us. We cannot become the sick, old and inward looking Europe Union’s gulag.

Let Europe protect itself and safeguard its wealth without us. Let the shame of it all cast a long shadow on them.

Our team of volunteers welcomes the refugees with warm meals and assistance. Many of them continue  their journey with the thought that the Hungarians were the people who smiled and came with food. This is the image that will stay with them, and I think that this is what’s most important.

Szilárd Kalmár 

(Translated by: Christopher Adam)


  1. Avatar Pierre Divenyi says:

    This is a very clairvoyant, precise and yet humane analysis of the European crisis. Unfortunately so…

  2. Well said.

  3. By no means is the European Union a serious political player on the world stage. And even economically, the eurozone is a lacklustre, anemic joke. The EU becoming a serious international power remains the pipedream of neoliberal eurocrats. Thankfully, few people take them seriously. Their hypocrisy and reactionary politics are now more evident than ever.

    • I do understand your point, it is quite true in some way, yet it seems to me the surface. Deep down the EU is still one of the significant power centers of the world I believe.

  4. “Sean Turner,” what on earth does your comment have to do with anything whatsoever of substance under discussion here? It sounds like hackneyed whinge-points spewed out by a very rudimentary computer programme triggered by keywords. Is it just going to spew out more of them by way of response?

    • @stevan,

      Have you met many Marxist computer programs yet? If so, please let me know. I would love to acquire one!

      The author speaks about the neoliberal hypocrisy of right-wing European political elites, who talk about European values, but then like to send refugees packing and want to protect their own welfare states from people in need…from “intruders.” I commented on this hypocrisy.

  5. … or will the keywords this time trigger a switch to the indignant ad-hominem subroutine?…

  6. “Our team of volunteers welcomes the refugees with warm meals and assistance.”

    That’s a very important thing. Not only as a humanitarian aid bust also as a balancing force in times when a country is governed and the society is brainwashed, manipulated and kept in a hypnotic trance by campaigns of hatred not only against the migrants but practically against anybody the government wishes to paint black. That’s the only way out to find a solution and handle the whole issue effectively. I hope it will work as an awakening force that is stemming right from the civilian society,…volunteers. That is power.

  7. @Sean Turner, ok, apologies, I now understand what you meant. On first reading it sounded like the usual Fidesz rant against the EU…

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