Response to Ambassador Bálint Ódor: Hungary’s government displays callousness

Hungary’s ambassador to Canada, Bálint Ódor, used an article in the Montreal Gazette to try to rally Hungarian Canadians to defend the actions of his government in Budapest. There is no doubt that the unprecedented number of Syrian refugees transiting through Hungary was a serious strain for Hungarian authorities and especially for the charities and activists in Budapest who struggled to provide food, clothing and shelter to men, women and children who found themselves homeless in Hungary’s public parks and train stations.

With almost no help from Hungary’s government, these volunteers usually paid for the food, sandwiches, fresh fruit and supplies donated to the refugees out of their own pockets. The story of a Budapest barber setting up shop in the Keleti train station to give refugees free haircuts is just one of the many acts of compassion in the Hungarian capital.

Mr. Ódor’s government displayed a callousness that is especially shameful on the part of a country that 59 years ago flooded the western world with more than 200,000 refugees. Canada accepted 38,000 Hungarian refugees and Canadian authorities waived some of the normal requirements connected with claiming asylum in order to expedite the entry of refugees who had captured the attention and sympathy of Canadian society.

In stark contrast to Canada’s response in 1956, Mr. Ódor fails to mention the campaign that his government launched against foreigners this summer. Hundreds of government billboards across the country announced that foreigners were coming to Hungary and would destroy the nation’s culture, engage in criminal activity and steal jobs from Hungarians. The government also mailed out a questionnaire to 8 million adult Hungarians that overtly connected immigration to terrorism, suggesting that allowing in Syrians would increase Hungary’s exposure to a terrorist attack.

Unlike before the fall of the Berlin Wall, when tens of thousands of East Germans fled West, through Hungary, and were met with a benevolent response on the part of Hungarian authorities, Hungary’s response to the current crisis was brash and shameful.

Christopher Adam, Ottawa


This letter was originally published in The Montreal Gazette.

Tensions flare on September 19th, 2015, in the village of Beremend, on Hungary's border with Croatia, as over 5,000 refugees enter Hungary through its southern neighbour in the last 48 hours. On Friday, Hungarian authorities disarmed Croatian authorities and confiscated a train filled with refugees, with the Orbán government claiming that Croatia has violated Hungary's borders. Photo: Balázs Mohai/MTI.

Tensions flare on September 19th, 2015, in the village of Beremend, on Hungary’s border with Croatia, as over 5,000 refugees enter Hungary through its southern neighbour in the last 48 hours. On Friday, Hungarian authorities disarmed Croatian police officers and confiscated a Croatian train filled with refugees that had entered Hungarian territory, with the Orbán government claiming that Croatia has violated Hungary’s borders. Photo: Balázs Mohai/MTI.


  1. Avatar Pierre Divenyi says:

    Very good letter, Christopher! Take it from one of the 200,000 Hungarian refugees of 1956.

  2. Avatar András B. Göllner says:

    Excellent response. Concise and to the point.

  3. Very nice letter. My heart goes out to the families with children who are fleeing from a war torn country. In my opinion the refugees of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution cannot be compared to the refugees Europe is faced with today. 80 – 90% of the so called refugees are economical migrants. They are 25-30 year old young men. They refuse to be fingerprinted and registered. A true refugee is willing to go to a DP Camp and wait their turn to be processed and enter a country legally. I do have a question however…. Why do these muslim refugees want to go to countries which are christian? Why don’t they go to Muslim countries?

    • Excellent question. The New York Times reported that these peoples are forbidden from going anywhere remotely prosperous in the Muslim world. They are tacitly defined as being ‘undesirables’.

      Anyway, Western Europe seems more amenable to a peaceful, prosperous life, which is why they want to go there. These people want nothing to do with Hungary; it just happens to be a geographic obstacle to their goal.

      I’m no defender of Orbán’s racist policies, but it’s rather convenient that the EU has been sitting on their hands for months as Hungary alone has been getting the flack for this crisis. Does this make sense? Not really.

      The media could stand to expose the EU’s ineptitude, and the causes at the source of the issue, rather than continue giving audience to Orbán’s shenanigans. Really what we are getting is poor quality journalism that contributes nothing to the solution beyond finger-pointing at an easy target.

      In the scheme of things Orbán’s a small dog with a tiny whimper, who’s caught in the lime-light of looking like he actually matters to this issue. He doesn’t.

    • Avatar Charlie London says:

      Get real.

      Just as Canada waived formalities in ’56, so are other surrounding countries in 2015.

      Why? Because they can’t cope logistically without inhumane delays – as callously displayed by Hungary.

      We need act GLOBALLY – as we seem to be doing now belatedly – and in the meantime help the refugees (migrants) as quickly and expeditiously as possible.

      Stuff the formalities – fill the churches, village halls, spare bedrooms and let people’s natural compassion flourish.

      And stuff thugs like Orban and Szijjártó- and the crazy immoral Bishops …

      And let’s just do it.

    • Because that’s the Eurabia plan. It’s not a political neologism. They gonna take Hungary as a transit rout until a flaw in the plan kicks is. Namely Hungary and Austria was not to be included.
      Why should be. Merkel and Putin in in their long hours of discussion behind closed doors without interpreters have already divided Europe to territories of Russian and German interest. Hungary belongs to Russia thus can avoid being Arabized
      That goes back to 2010. All the maritime powers are in the game. Even Australia is in Syria now, too. Now they might want to reshuffle the deck. That’s has gone anyway and doesn’t seem to realize that way they wanted. There they go and Orban is useless.

  4. Orban used this crisis to solidify his hold on the country and neutralize the neo-Nazi Jobbik party. ( I am one of the 60,000 + who came to the USA after Oct. ’56)

  5. I find it strange that the “refugees” didn’t put up any fight for their own country but demand Europe take them in all the while displaying violence to get their way. Over 75% are men, the word “refugee” is a Trojan horse.


    Every one of Ambassador Odor’s strained justifications (above)for the unpardonably inhumane treatment of the asylum-seekers by Hungary rings shamefully hollow.

    While THE Hungarian government is making “generous” gifts to troubled symbolic memorials to the past victims of communist atrocities, it has been spending the time since last february — long before the refugee numbers reached today’s levels, but when the growth rate was already clearly predictable — very ungenerously vilifying the current victims of atrocities in the Hungarian government-controlled media, erecting signs in Hungarian streets warning foreigners (in Hungarian) not to take Hungarian jobs, and circulating an outrageously biassed national “questionnaire,” designed to foment hatered and fear in advance, “asking” Hungarian citizens whether they want these potential terrorists in Hungary.

    If any genuine government generosity were at issue — generosity comparable to what the world showed towards the fleeing Hungarian refugees in 1956 — it would not have had to be Hungarian private citizens and private charities who were now, on their own initiative, and despite the hate campaigns and intimidation, feeding, sheltering, providing medical help and reassuring the growing numbers of exhausted, frightened, and traumatized victims about what was happening to them.

    The government, in its generosity, had not, during all those advance months of fomenting hatred in the Hungarian citizenry, even bothered to prepare a PA system with translators able to tell worn and bewildered refugees in their native language what to do, or expect. All government focus was on exclusion and deterrence, not humanitarian needs.

    Now, for those who are wondering why on earth the Hungarian government would have been behaving so flagrantly ungenerously, the answer is not hard to find:

    The purpose of the systematic, premeditated demonization of the refugees by Mr. Odor’s ruling party, Fidesz, was threeforld: (1) to win patriotic votes from the many racist supporters of the growing neo-nazi opposition party, Jobbik, (2) to divert attention from growing evidence of extremely high-level government corruption scandals and (3) to accelerate the relentless transformation of Hungary into a dictatorship by systematically vilifying then mistreating then provoking then criminalizing the alien refugees as a pretext for adopting emergency legislation that gives the government police-state powers, which can then be used against their own citizens.

    For details:

    Orbán’s police state…/orbans-police-state-hungary…/
    Why Hungary is so awful to refugees…/syrian-refugees-hungary-viktor-orban
    Hungary’s Viktor Orban, the cunning leader who would keep refugees out of Europe…/hungary-s-viktor-orban-the-cunning…
    Princeton Academic Kim Lane Scheppele: PM Orbán Using Refugee Crisis to Build Police State…/kim-lane-scheppele-pm-orban…

  7. Apologies. Corrections for truncated URLs above:

    Orbán’s police state

    Why Hungary is so awful to refugees

    Hungary’s Viktor Orban, the cunning leader who would keep refugees out of Europe

    Princeton Academic Kim Lane Scheppele: PM Orbán Using Refugee Crisis to Build Police State

  8. These people must be sent back to their homeland. Who would have ever thought that Europe would take it hook line and sinker, muslims running from islam is absurd. The so called “refugee” is the new Trojan horse, refugee today, terrorist tomorrow.

    Why is it the responsibility of any European country to give these “refugees”(most are economic refugees) a better life. Europe has nothing to gain by letting or bringing these people in. Europe, your first and last obligation is to your people. What do the “refugees” have to offer? They bring nothing to the table.

    Why don’t muslim “asylum seekers” go to Qatar, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates , Oman, Saudi Arabia or any of the other rich muslim countries? These are Islamic countries therefore more suitable for them.

    Has any European country benefited by opening it’s borders to non-Europeans? Name one. Do they make Europe a safer place to live? Have they made Europe great? Are they good for tourism? Do they bring anything positive to Europe? Do they respect the citizens of Europe and the customs? Do they support themselves without burdening the tax payers? Do they burden the judicial system due to high crime rates? Do they love Europe or what they can get from her?

    Do they victimize the European people in large proportions to their small numbers? Wouldn’t crimes against the European people foreshadow their true intentions? Do they trash up the areas they inhabit in Europe? If they victimize the host country’s people and trash up their land after they have been given a new start at life, wouldn’t that be like a direct “screw you”? Do they demand you to change your ways and customs so they can tolerate you? Do they respect the peoples government? Your family? Your people? Your culture?

    If they are guilty of three of these questions then It would be safe to say they should not be in Europe. There is more harm than good for Europe and her people.

    If a European country don’t let the hoards flood their land they are called “racist” and “Nazis” if they let them in, their country, their lives, their descendants lives will be torn apart. Which one is easier to live with? Which one does the most damage? Which choice is beneficial to the European country and it’s people? Wake up before it’s too late.

  9. Mercenaries losing job, go renegade in am attempt to establish their own force.

  10. About the callousness of the Hungarian government. On a previous thread I posted a message on how the mafia government operates and why they are unable to save the country. But reading Mr. Odor’s letter, its entertainment value is remarkable.

    Well, the unnecessary callousness, irresponsibility and cynicism on the government’s side might cause more problem than their complete lack of diplomatic skill. They don’t even care about the water and food supply of their very own law enforcement as Chris attached a link on one of the previous pieces. I remember when Orban grabbed power on 2010 he called the law enforcement clowns. I can’t recall the expression he used but something like “we must appoint a Government Commissioner of Clown Affairs” Anybody remember what he said?

    Now here.

    It’s in Hungarian language if anybody should care to translate it into English. Me, just a few sentences of a member of the police squad he told the reporter.

    -I got home at midnight after a 16 of duty at the fence.
    -I can stand it somehow but I see many of us are close to a freak out.
    -We get no information, our only source is the mass media.
    -Sometimes we have a feeling that they in the velvet chair think: the
    worse it becomes the better it is.
    Reporter – We can see photos for the most part when women are holding crying little kids in front of the policemen.
    Policemen – What can I say. It’s easy to use and take advantage of little kids in a situation like that.

  11. R. Daniel Kelemen (2015) Europe’s Hungary Problem: Victor Orban Flouts the Union. Foreign Affairs

    “Just as one rotten apple can spoil a barrel, one brutish autocrat can spoil a political union. As Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has consolidated power and built an increasingly authoritarian regime, he has thumbed his nose at the European Union—and mostly gotten away with it. Over the past few years, Orban has been a mild embarrassment for the union, but in his callous and shortsighted reaction to the ongoing refugee crisis, he has become a disgrace…”

    “This needs to stop. While many on the Center–Right may agree that tougher border controls and less inviting asylum policies are needed, they need to make it clear that Orban’s treatment of refugees is beyond the pale. Leaders of the EPP, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Commission President Jean Claude Juncker, and Council President Donald Tusk, should begin by denouncing Orban’s actions and announcing that his party will be ejected from their Center–Right coalition if his regime does not change course. Then all of Europe’s leaders should stand together to publicly condemn Orban’s rhetoric and policies. If they fail to do so, the rot will only spread.”

    • The rot? Orban made a little error, forgot to fix it and it became a mistake. He is known for whatever he touches gets rusty. It served the interest of his lords very well until he touched the immigrant issue. He just needed to touch it. Nothing more.
      Das Paneuropäische Manifest wurde von Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi zusammengestellt und 1923 publiziert.

      Nice game. What is rotting now faster?

  12. They just can’t collapse them before uniting them in a union first.
    And there comes the little Orban to push through himself and starts opening another door that he has no permission to open.
    And hi puts his little kippah on when it’s required, Bibi tries to ratcheting up a notch and then gets confused sometimes, and things start rotting. Or changing.


    Gergely Prohle, a former Hungarian ambassador to Berlin, now deputy state secretary in the Fidesz government, told the BBC…
    …Hungary, he emphasised, had no colonial past, little experience with immigrants, and a large Jewish community who would be the first to fear a large Muslim influx…

    This is the kind of foul-smelling mendacity that our Ambassador Odor is busy dispensing and defending.

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