Hungary tries to lure émigré youth back home

While the Orbán government is busy erecting a 177 km barbed wire fence along the full length of the border with Serbia, in a thus far completely unsuccessful attempt at keeping refugees out, and sending a message to the Fidesz party’s base that the government is tough as nails with the migrants, it is also launching a program to lure Hungarian economic migrants living in London, Berlin, Frankfurt and elsewhere in the European Union back home. Much like is the case with the wildly ineffective barrier on the border, I suspect that the new program, rather ungracefully entitled “Come Home, Youth!” (Gyere haza, fiatal!”), serves primarily as a communications tool, in order to ease the concerns of tens of thousands of Hungarian parents who are seeing their children leave Hungary in droves, for better wages, more job opportunities and a friendlier socio-political climate in western Europe. Up until now, Fidesz appeared not to care very much, or seemed to largely dismiss concerns about the growing brain drain. Perhaps internal party polling showed that ordinary voters are, indeed, worried about the fact that over half a million young, educated Hungarians have left the country in recent years.

A recent public poll also showed that 37% of Hungarian university students were planning to leave the country upon graduation.

The Come Home, Youth! program, however, seems to be having moderate success, at most. As a sign that the Orbán government appears to be looking for the elusive silver lining, Szabolcs Pákozdni, the program’s director, cheerfully announced that thus far, employment has been secured for 21 (twenty-one) young Hungarians who had emigrated, but had returned to Hungary, thanks to these new opportunities. It speaks volumes, when the return of 21 Hungarians is cause to hold a press conference.

Even more telling is the fact that Minister of the National Economy, Mihály Varga, personally welcomed the first Hungarian to return to his homeland, Gábor Sie, on his first day at work. Mr. Sie was probably a little surprised by the media stunt.

Coming or going? Budapest's Liszt Ferenc International Airport.

Coming or going? Budapest’s Liszt Ferenc International Airport.

A total of 2,380 young Hungarians have registered with the program, and are waiting for organizers to find them employment, before committing to return to Hungary. Apparently, 172 of the applicants have been paired up with potential employers, and will soon begin the interview process.

Mr. Pákozdi also added, that some of the youth on the waiting list are happy to return to Hungary, even if they do not obtain gainful employment, as they plan to launch their own business. Hungarian authorities, as of late, have not been very friendly to private businesses not connected with the ruling political elite, but perhaps some young Hungarians are still optimistic. The program aims to provide these fledgling entrepreneurs with help as well, through 100 hours of e-training.

Thus far, the program has received a fairly modest 10.5 million forints in state funding.


  1. For someone who writes news, you are not up to date with the latest developments. But that does not stop you to write a mis-informed and biased article so typical in the western media about hungary nowadays. Maybe Ottava is just to far…….

    • So you claim that this publication is “not up to date”, but offer nothing? So what is it missing? Please update us then.

  2. They lure them back, provide them with a short temporary social allowance or kind of temporary benefits and job. Soon they will find their social benefits run their courses, their employers start badly abusing them by assigning menial underpaid tasks to them and will sack them at short notice at the first moment they dare ask for just treatment. They become the proud slave soldiers of the public works program.

    The price? Nothing but a token, they have to sign a contract of commitment that they do whatever the they are told or will have to pay back the allowances with high interest rate and possible financial penalty and lose their jobs that of course can happen even if they are obedient sheep slaves.
    And later their lawyer will find a fine print clause in the contract that says they actually they have to pay back all the social benefits they got, anyway. They inevitably will accumulate huge debts and — game over.

    Who would believe a government that destroys health service, education, loots the pension found, their future, who drives away hundreds of thousands educated young people, build razor wire fences, secretive even with Russian tied nuclear issues, and lies all day?

    They even stole the republic. A country that is ceased to be a republic “köztársaság” but still have a “köztársasági elnök” Mr. Áder. Ridiculous. Truly ridiculous. Cheap clowns, buffons.

    Thanks, I am not going home.

  3. @Tibor: Yeah this is coming from the Fidesz hating pseudo intellectual Christopher Adam and Richard here is prob Chris himself desperately trying to convince the 20 people who read his little “news websites” that anyone cares about his backwards, ill-informed, often offensive views. Not sure if he is getting paid to write up this gibberish (and often straight-up lies) but it is not inconceivable. Just ignore him, he is just a nasty little fart in the stench drenched world of mainstream news.

    If you want to have a good read from someone who hasn’t got his head up it’s ass, google this:


    • Avatar Charlie London says:

      Complete balderdash – why do you waste your time?

    • Obviously, you think the people who read this blog are important enough to make your comment to. What I would like to know, is not your OPINION of this page, or your OPINION of the readers, nor your OPINION on politics, rather I would like to hear you back up your claims that what is reported here is “often straight up lies”. Since you took time out of your day to make this rediculous comment, was it just simply to push your own political agenda or was it to promote your buddy Adam and the views of the Republicans? Don’t think for a second we don’t see through you.

  4. Avatar Charlie London says:

    Given the enormous numbers who have fled Hungary (and I use ‘fled’ advisedly) then the very low numbers are probably those who were returning anyway given the large pool of émigrés. And who are pleasantly, and coincidentally, surprised at the financial assistance.

    The monthly subsidy for a year may appear more generous – when set against Hungarian average salaries, but it’s peanuts when set against Western averages.

    Hardly any incentive to return home at all.

    The recent strike by health workers and nurses in Budapest showed placards telling of monthly net salaries of between 83,000 – 96,000 forints. (£193 -£223 (GBP) or 393-455 (CAD) per month!). Shockingly low wages that reflect the dire state of the Hungarian health system – but shockingly (2) subsidised by the nursing profession and doctors blackmailing patients until they divvy up with the ‘euphemistically’ called ‘gratitude money’ or the ‘envelope’. In addition, Nurses dubiously request jars of coffee and other food ‘currency’.

    If you visit a nurse’s home and you see jars of coffee in their kitchen cupboard – and a doctor’s well-stocked drinks cabinet, then you know why.

    Not just this corruption, but when concerned patient’s relatives provide essential supplies, for example, medical wipes and toilet paper, then these are misappropriated for other favourite patients (substitute ‘favourite’ for more ackers in the envelope).

    Of course there are some, possibly many, who don’t get involved with this – but many do and it brings shame on the whole profession.

    So very very low wages.

    Will my partner ever return home permanently?

    She will be starting a Nursing Degree in London in September with a bursary of £524 per month (1071 CAD) with no housing costs. That’s 224,000 forints per month AS A STUDENT!

    2.5 times that of a qualified Hungarian nurse.

    Not just a higher salary but her tuition fees will be paid for by her future employer (circa £27,000 or 55,121 CAD).

    And she will have the kudos of being a Florence Nightingale nurse.

    Will she ever return?

    No, but not because of the financials – surprisingly.

    But because she is deeply ashamed of Hungarian politics and how Hungary is treating the refugees.

    Deeply deeply ashamed.

    No, Orban’s imploring of Hungarians to return will fall on deaf ears.

    As successful a plan as his plan to produce 1M jobs.

    A miserable failure.

    • Avatar Charlie London says:

      Out of interest – more financials!

      When she qualifies in three years’ time she will earn an average here of £23,000 per annum (47,000 CAD)
      – which by Western standards is low, when you take into account the hard work of a Nursing Degree.

      However £23,000 (47,000 in CAD) = 9,821,000 forints (818,000 forints gross per month – (3,900 CAD)

      Seven times (net) of a trained Hungarian nurse.

      But she will be able to specialise further and earn much more in the private sector – and is free to go anywhere for employment.

      In Hungary trainees are handcuffed for several years in 10 where they MUST work in the Hungarian health system – and where the training is not respected much in the West.

      Politics aside how could you ever go back?

  5. Most educated Hungarian youth want to leave. There is nothing positive in Hungary for them!

    Orbán and his shenanigans aside, the reality is the future of Hungary is bleak. How can the country climb up is the question! I see no positives, maybe time is the only cure. Things have never been the same since the old days, and most of the diaspora I know of in Canada are interested in Hungary’s affairs, but would never go back. It’s not the land we remember.

    I imagine recent young Hungarian émigrés would rather follow the route of the current refugee crisis peoples to the West (Germany / UK and North America) than be committed to crummy wages and life prospects. Its a matter of pragmatism and future prospects, after all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *