Hungary is free to follow the British road and leave the European Union

Hungarians need to comprehend that their country cannot simply enjoy the financial and economic benefits of membership in the European Union–they must be willing to participate in joint projects and show solidarity in times of crisis, as the EU is not an la carte menu–writes Remi Piet, assistant professor of public policy and international political economy at Qatar University. Yet the EU’s leaders are not standing up for their common values and by not opposing Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, the entire European Union is “losing its soul.” Professor Piet’s insightful commentary originally appeared on the Al Jazeera website, which we are sharing with HFP’s readers. 

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Over the past few days, the streets of Hungary have been taken over by large billboards with an unequivocal message: “Let’s send a message to Brussels so that they understand.”

The defiance and arrogance of the ruling nationalist movement led by Hungarian President Viktor Orbán has reached new levels with this campaign that cost his country millions of euros. In two weeks, he will be able to use a new bargaining chip in his populistic demands: an overwhelming victory in the upcoming referendum on the quota of Syrian refugees that his country will accept.

The Hungarian government referendum billboard reads: Let's send a message to Brussels, so that they will understand." Photo: Nyugat.hu

The Hungarian government referendum billboard reads: Let’s send a message to Brussels, so that they will understand,” but has been defaced by a protester who stuck the following words on the bottom: “Send us more money!”  Photo: Nyugat.hu

Orbán’s victory in the upcoming vote is assured. The question asked to Hungarian citizens could not have been more biased: “Do you want the European Union to be able to order the mandatory settlement of non-Hungarian citizens in Hungary without parliament’s consent?”

It is hard to imagine that a country would vote en masse to allow any organisation to impose decisions without consulting its own elected parliament. Had the question been “Do you want to protect a handful of civilians escaping war?” then Orbán’s success would have been less certain.

National sovereignty

Orbán has framed the debate around the issue of national sovereignty. The argument is that Hungary needs to resist against decisions taken abroad, as it has done throughout its history.

In the 19th century, the country resisted diktats from the Austrian Empire. In the second half of the 20th century, it stood valiantly against the orders from Moscow. Now, Orban suggests, it is time to resist policies from Brussels as if the European Union was yet another conqueror.

What Orbán fails to mention is that Hungary is free to follow the British road and leave the European Union at any time. Nevertheless, this is a step that Budapest will not take. The country benefits greatly from EU membership with its gross national product per head increasing by 20 percent since Hungary joined the union 10 years ago, despite a recent stuttering under Orbán.

Yet, despite impressive economic results, the Hungarians have to understand that being a member of the EU does not mean that you can simply reap the benefits without contributing to a common political project.

In the case of the Syrian refugees, both Greece and Italy are supporting the bulk of the weight. Even if the efforts made by both countries is little in comparison with Lebanon or Turkey, both are in dire need of support from European solidarity.

Matteo Renzi is about to bet his political survival in an upcoming referendum on constitutional reforms, currently overshadowed by the debate on refugees. The Greek economy is still recovering and needs support from neighbours.

Refugee crisis

Yet Orbán is using the refugee crisis for his own interests. His objective is to annex the electorate of the other nationalistic parties in Hungary, such as the neo-nazi Jobbik party, by blowing the issue out of proportion.

In truth, the European Union plan for refugees allocation only requested Hungary to welcome 1,000 refugees – that represents a mere 0.01 percent of the current population.

If Hungary is not ready to step up to its obligations, if the country does not want to contribute to a regional effort by implementing Brussels’ negotiated quota system, then the pertinence of its EU membership should be reassessed. This is in essence what other European leaders are starting to suggest.

Before the European summit held last week in Bratislava, the foreign minister of Luxembourg – a founding member of the EU – clearly suggested that Hungary should be left on the side of the European Union.

According to Jean Asselborn, Hungary should be kicked out because of its repeated violations of the EU’s core identity.

Raising fences and hiring “border hunters” to reject war refugees is fundamentally against the values and political aspirations underlying the very creation of the union.

The EU is not an a la carte menu whose finality is to increase economic return. It was never meant to be a pedestrian trade agreement but instead was founded to “make war unthinkable and materially impossible” and prevent the rise of nationalism, as the Schuman Declaration of 1950 clearly stipulated.

By not standing up to its original values, the European Union is losing its soul and therefore its raison d’etre. The European project is not about ethnic or religious identity, nor is it about economic gains but it is about the protection of democracy and the interdependence between people and nations.

Unfortunately, the Bratislava summit confirmed that European leaders were ready to settle for very mild and cautious stances. The priority curser has been pointed towards stability and security, playing directly into the hands of the extreme right parties.

With elections over the next few months, neither Angela Merkel nor Francois Hollande seem willing to take an ambitious long-term approach. The fallout from Brexit, the opposition between Mediterranean and Nordic countries, the renewed assertiveness of xenophobic leaders in the East … all these divisions seem to paralyse the already lukewarm Franco-German tandem when leadership would be deeply needed.

Instead of playing on the defensive in the wake of globalisation and its inevitable consequences, a reaffirmation of European values together with a strong rebuttal of Orbán’s xenophobic tactics would have been the correct long-term strategy.

Until European leaders stand up to their responsibilities, the European youth will not buy into the universal project, and the democratic deficit of the European institutions will worsen, leading to their eventual demise.

Remi Piet

36 Comments

  1. Charlie London says:

    A very good analysis, Remi.

    “By not standing up to its original values, the European Union is losing its soul and therefore its raison d’etre. “

    Fully agree – except you have used the wrong tense.

    “Has lost its soul…”

    For too long the EU has allowed Orban’s peacock dance – telling the EU one thing and his electorate another.

    I actually believe Orban is manoeuvring to position himself to leave when the EU funds dry up – and when he has ‘conditioned’ his electorate to win the next election – and another prediction – he will call a snap election before 2018.

    This over-the-top (OTT) poster campaign is just a dry run for his election call.

    But not before his castle is finished – and he’s kippered the media up fully – just a few more percent needed.

    Arise ‘King Orban!

    The ‘Parasitic 4’ should watch their step.

  2. No one knows whether subsidizing Orban’s treacherous drive towards dictatorship via hatred, media control and corruption is a worthwhile investment from EU tax-payers as a buffer against Russia’s military expansion as well as future wars among European nations; but the EU has extremely limited options for kicking Hungary out; Orban may be the best ally for that. A referendum on EU membership would be much more meaningful than this faux referendum against helping refugees. It would either slow Orban’s despotic drive or help rid the EU of the odium of Orbanistan.

    • Christopher Adam says:

      Absolutely agree, Stevan. Another question is whether an invalid referendum due to low turn-out might weaken Orbán. If the percentage of valid ballots cast falls below 40% of the electorate, I predict there will be political fall-out for Orbán. At minimum, he will head towards the 2018 elections badly weakened.

      • Charlie London says:

        Christopher!

        It will be a chicken shoot!

        Orban’s turnout will be above 70%!!

        With each voter carrying a lamp post!

        Ok, I exaggerate! But 50% is absolutely assured!

        I’ll bet you a jar of Canadian maple syrup – and Butter Tart!

  3. The problem with all this is that the original quote was written by a man living in Qatar, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, that is also a muslim nation, yet have quietly accepted no refugees. I think the professor might best ask why Qatar doesn’t accept refugees given their huge resources and compatible culture.

    • The Qatar position is OT.
      The topic here is Orban’s xenophobic, hate mongering and destructive regime and its place in the EU.

    • He is from Qatar, a most special place in the world and the Illuminati armory.
      http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2xywf0

    • Exactly, not a one of the rich Islamic countries are taking the Islamic “refugees”. It’s wrong for Europe to play mother hen with these people over their own. The leaders of the EU are on the take (it’s obvious) that’s why Europeans matter not and the deplorable people and cultures are loved and cherished over the people and cultures Europe. Europe wake up or your descendants will lose their home land thanks to the sell outs in the EU.

  4. Hear, hear.
    Orbanistan is incompatible the European set of values and the toleration of such a regime undermines the whole project.

  5. András B. Göllner says:

    This is what more than 20 of Hungary’s leading civil rights organizations, including the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, the Hungarian Europe Society, and the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, had to say about Orbán’s anti-refugee referendum last week: „This government is inciting hatred against refugees that will further weaken the already shattered social solidarity in our country. The government wants to create creatures who decide about public matters and the fate of others based on our worst instincts. Instead of informing people, the government seeks to eliminate the possibility of free citizens making rational, fact-based decisions. This referendum is incompatible with the concept of human rights.”

    This is what the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said about Hungary’s anti-refugee stance: “This is an entirely unacceptable infringement of the human rights of refugees and migrants. Seeking asylum is not a crime.”

    What more can anyone say ? It’s time for action on the part of all those, who are committed to the preservation of human rights and the dignity of our fellow human beings.

  6. “European values”….”Europe’s soul”… – claptrap really!

    Orban is no-brainer on immigration.

    BTW, what is happening in Syria just illustrates what misfortune is for a society to be fragmented ethnically and religiously.

    The more foreigners we bring to our countries the more we run into the danger to become the next Syria.

  7. The entire premise of the article and this post is false.

    They are not ‘refugees’. They are economic migrants. If they were refugees, there would be as many women as men, and as many children as men & women combined. Why are the vast majority of ‘refugees’ comprised of men between 15 and 35?

    And if we accept your false premise that they are ‘refugees’, who created the situation in the first place? Who bombed their homes? Hungary?

    “Human rights and the dignity of our fellow human beings”….”Orban’s xenophobic, hate mongering and destructive regime”…”Orbanistan is incompatible the European set of values and the toleration of such a regime undermines the whole project”…HA HA

    I laugh in your general direction. Living in southern Poland, I appreciate Hungary’s stance on the economic migrants. No country should be forced to take in foreigners who are hostile to the locals and current inhabitants. I plan on visiting and spending my hard-earned wages on holiday in Hungary rather than Germany for this very reason. Angela Merkel has no right to dictate the immigration policies of other countries. And I know MANY other people, Poles, Slovaks, and American Expats, who feel exactly the same way. But I suppose you don’t believe all the news reports coming out of Germany, Sweden and other western European countries, let alone the recent terrorist attacks in France and elsewhere.

    Did you not pay attention to the ‘Brexit’? People are tired of globalists, progressives and uber-wealthy foreign interests trying to control their lives and livelihoods. Add the Pope to this list.

    The fact of the matter is that the Vatican and every oil-based Middle-Eastern government/economy could provide shelter, food and comfort to every ‘refugee’ in the world, without trying to force them to assimilate into countries and cultures which cannot afford nor accommodate them appropriately. Square pegs, round holes, and all that.

  8. “European set of values”….what a freakin’ joke.

    European values? Really? What are those?

    Let’s put this in perspective and talk about European architecture, and European cuisine? What are those? Exactly. They’re as ambiguous and MEANINGLESS as European values.

    If you want to have a conversation about French cuisine, French architecture and French values, they may have some meaning, but even those are probably too generic and too general. I’m sure books could be written about the difference between Slovakian values and Slovenian values.

    ‘European values’ is a phrase coined by globalists to try to convince feeble-minded progressives that making French act like Germans and making Syrians eat Polish food is awesome. Nothing could be further from the truth.

  9. ” Had the question been “Do you want to protect a handful of civilians escaping war?” then Orbán’s success would have been less certain.” But that’s a lie, isn’t it? A damned lie, Peti, and you should be ashamed of yourself for penning such intellectual slop. And you responders with your weepy mush of ‘this isn’t who we are’ are simply mentally out to lunch. Your grasp of reality is less than responsible. What the hell world do you think you’re living in. Everytime you argue for mass immigration you argue for rape and murder and people being afraid to go out in their own communities due to the violence that adheres to the Religion of Peace which is totalitarian, authoritarian and Fascistic to its rotten, vile core. The idea that when people have a choice between Moses, Jesus, Buddha, Zoroaster and Mohammed they choose the one who raped and murdered his way across the Middle East is morally vile to every decent sensisbility that Kafirs have. Who the hell are you moral trolls that can be so blind to what is right in front of your noses.

  10. While they refuse to accept a 1000 refugees the government sold permanent residency permits to anyone with cash. The “processing” fee for such was/is 50000 Euros netting so far over a hundred million Euros to the small group led by Rogan and Habony two capos in the Orban maffia.

    • Karl?

      According to their ‘marketing puff’ 4000 migrants have already been approved – And they are “now marketing the scheme to Africa”

      As a reluctant Brexitor these actions make it a lot easier to leave – and it is a reflection on the so-called ‘values’ of the EU.

      As in “Lost its soul…….”

      (Lost its integrity more like.)

  11. While they refuse to accept 1000 refugees the government sold permanent residency permits to anyone with cash. The “processing” fee for such was/is 50000 Euros netting so far over a hundred million Euros to the small group led by Rogan and Habony two capos in the Orban maffia.

  12. András B. Göllner says:

    @ Bogdan

    Love your Freudian slip. Orbán IS a “no-brainer” on immigration policy. And, judging from your comments above, you are also a no-brainer, venting nothing but hot-air from your cranium.

  13. Re: Bogdan…..Bravo Gollner!

  14. András B. Göllner says:

    @ karl busch

    The permanent residency permit scam in the Middle East and Africa is a joint-venture between the Fidesz and the MSZP. The local agent is Balázs Garamvölgyi, a close pal of Attila Mesterházy, and the other is Viktor Polgár, the MSZP’s former Press Secretary, and Mesterházi Attila’s former boss at Hill and Knowlton Hungary. Politics makes strange bedfellows. Prostitution is somewhat similar. In both cases, money is the lubricant.

    For details on the corrupt nature of Hungarian politics in this case, please see:

    http://444.hu/2016/09/08/tiborcz-istvan-mellett-mesterhazy-attila-ismerosei-is-jol-jartak-a-kozel-keleten

    • A. Gölner,
      There is no MSZP in this scam. 444 speculates, but it’s fetched – on 20 yo school mates relation and like. The only realistic link is Garamvölgyi’s rubbing around MSZP while they we’re in government.
      Read 444 piece carefully.

  15. Thank you Gollner!! Well said, I was not aware of the collusion between these scumbags.

  16. I don’t really understand ten usefulness of this newer billboard campaign, or what it could achieve beyond unnecessarily trolling the EU and trying to publicize himself as a fighter for democracy. This referendum is nothing more than a symbol. Well, I certainly would like to know more about it, whether Orban has another another purpose to fulfill with this that is hidden from us, thus we can’t understand.
    —–
    Their soul???? The European union has never lost its soul as it never had and was created for totalitarian control and for the complete destruction of Europe, for the complete replacement of the European populace. It’s a long well financed process and the present destruction was prepared decades ago including false education for the new generation, the total destruction of Christian values and common moral including their power of discrimination and commons sense.

    It went on from 1973 when EEC established the EAD as a response to the oil embargo. The EEC founded PAEAC aiming cultural, economic, and political cooperation between Europe and the Arab-Muslim world. Many important immigration policies were enacted by the EEC, such as the 1978 Damascus Declaration that gave immigrants the right to keep their culture and they would not have integrate into the secular European culture of any of their host nation.

    Moreover, Arabs aggressively requested special privileges for Arab immigrants, including equal rights. In February 2003 EuroMeSCo issued a report that the main sources of immigration into the EU must primarily be from Muslim countries. As early as in October 2003, the High-Level Advisory Group of the European Commission issued a report that stated that Arab Muslims along with the already existing Muslim populations of Bulgaria, the whole Balkans including Turkey, and the living Turkish Muslim populations in Germany and Austria will be a powerful weapon to the diversification of European Islam i.e. the complete Islamization of Europe, and of creating an inferior easily controllable race of damaged genetic pools. And about of who will rule them then, please read Richard Calergi Caudenhove.

    The European people still have their soul it’s not lost it hasn’t been snatched, they are waking up and will fight for their survival. The good guy will win.

  17. All of this because Hungary blocked the Islamic invasion. Jean Asselborn, Angela Merkel and a few others in top EU positions are on the take. The oil rich countries of the middle east have paid the EU leaders to turn their back on Europe and her people.

    Hungary would be wise to follow England and free themselves of this evil overlord. Before the EU is through with Europe they will have done more damage than any previous war. Wake up Europe and take your countries back for the future of your children and your children’s children.

  18. ‘Lost’ it’s soul? Kind of implies it had one in th first place.

  19. I just had a little time to read the original, the headline says:

    Hungary should be kicked out of the EU Raising fences and hiring “border hunters” to reject war refugees goes against the values of the EU.

    Excuse me, but there are more than 10 000 refugees in Hungary in open refugee camps, those who applied for asylum and most of them disappeared, i.e. not waiting for the legal procedure and registration (all fighting age men) and are escaping to Austria and it is Austria that building a similar fence or even stronger to keep them away.

    I wonder how writers wanna keep their credibility — lost long ago that is what lost — when they don’t even have the intellectual courage to be at least unbiased and objective.

  20. @Wawrzyniec
    on September 24, 2016 at 11:05 pm

    “European set of values”….what a freakin’ joke.

    Well….. German sense of humor, Italian reliability, British cuisine, Greek tax-paying morale….

    Seriously, if the “European values” are represented in the slightest by Schultz or Drunker or Cohn-Bendit, then THAT Europe needs to be terminated – to be replaced by the true European alliance of free and sovereign nations.

  21. Richard I was (and still am) living in Hungary while those thousands of refugees were here. I saw plenty of women and children at Keleti station. There were full families including many small children sleeping on the ground on cardboard. Funny that you talk about unbiased opinion yet you know nothing of what was actually going on here. Very easy to have those opinions with little knowledge of the facts and a roof over your head.

    • I know — you don’t know or you’re manipulating with old outdated data. I didn’t speak about what happened long ago at Eastern Railways Station I’m speaking about what is happening now.

      Yet, if you think you know better, please correct me and let us know about the present situation, the open refugee camps (number locations), the number of missing and still accommodated refugees, the guarded refugee camps, and about the construction of the super protective fence by the Austrians at the Hungarian border etc.

      Carefully please don’t make a fool of yourself. Remember, anybody can look it up on the net on German, Hungarian, French, and English language sites, videos and images, and on many other alternative sites like HFP.

      It’s so easy for those who wanna know the truth that I don’t even need to answer you anymore.

  22. If Hungary wants to close its doors that is down to the Hungarians. After all, the track record of muslim intergration in Western Europe leaves much to be desired. The EU is a failed concept and the sooner the better the Visegrad Four and the UK create a more honest European direction that doesnt involve political correctness and mass muslim immigration we will all be far happier. Russia is our true friend not the cultural traitors in Brussels.

  23. András B. Göllner says:

    It’s amazing to see, how the mental midgets from Orbánistan gravitate to this site to demonstrate their low-brow. I love this one the best:

    “The European union was created for totalitarian control and for the complete destruction of Europe, for the complete replacement of the European populace. It’s a long well financed process and the present destruction was prepared decades ago including false education for the new generation, the total destruction of Christian values”

    Really juicy !!!! Hillary would no doubt say “wooooo-eeee” to this asseninity. Erik Pickles, pray tell – are you kosher dill or just plain dull ?

    • Tell the truth and you are Orbanista, G0llner you have commentersphobia performing your nonsense ironic insults?
      And the EU? Is this your kind of EU-necrophilia?

      And BTW which Hillary are you speaking about? Type Hillary Clinton body double and google it and click images.

  24. G0llner,
    on September 28, 2016 at 6:31 pm

    here enjoy your babe. What would she say? If she can speak at all.

  25. Gollner, that’s for your kosher dill, eat this.

  26. Gollner,

    and that’s for you for making personal remarks instead of commenting the European union with something that make sense. Your recurring pickle mania is really boring.

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