These cities that make Europe: Budapest and the fear of migrants

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The migratory crisis that peaks in June, July and August 2015 will ignite Europe, especially Hungary, a country entering the Schengen area. The world suddenly discovers images showing endless columns of refugees, sometimes whole families. Driven from their country by wars or misery, these migrants will fuel heated controversy within the European Union: what to do with them?

In Budapest, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbàn opts for the strong way, mobilizing police and army and ordering the construction of a triple barbed wire fence along the southern border. The airlock in Hungary is closed, but migrants continue to reach Greece – from the Turkish coast – upstream.

While Orbán instrumentalizes refugees for domestic purposes and to assert themselves on the European plane, it is ultimately Angela Merkel who will settle the issue by negotiating with Turkey. Four years after the migration crisis of 2015, the subject is still at the heart of the electoral campaign in Hungary.

Although he will probably be re-elected MEP, the Hungarian Socialist Tibor Szanyi is not very optimistic for his own camp. A recent exchange with a cross voter in the street makes him doubt. Among others. "First he tells me all the harm he thinks of Viktor Orban, that he's a thug, a liar, a thief," he says. Full of hope, I ask him then for whom he will vote to the Europeans. Answer: For the Orban party, of course, because of the refugees! "

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<p><i>Tibor Szanyi, outgoing PS deputy, is not very optimistic for his party./LP/Philippe MARTINAT </i></p>
<p>In his offices in the chic 6th district of Budapest, former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany, who chairs the Democratic Coalition Party (DK), allied with the opposition PS, is also convinced that the Hungarian head of government will "touch the dividends in the next elections of the migration crisis, while in most provinces no one has seen a single foreigner and all the refugees are now gone. "</p>
<h2 class=Media control

Despite his lack of affection for Viktor Orban and his party Fidesz ("Alliance of Young Democrats"), the journalist Andras Desi can not hide a touch of admiration: "From a strictly professional point of view what he manages to do is great! "

With his colleagues, Desi, who was one of the great signatures of "Nepszabadsag" ("Freedom of the People"), the well-respected left-center daily, has paid dearly for his critical attitude.

On Saturday, October 8, 2016, shortly after the acquisition of their press group by an Austrian tycoon, journalists were barred without warning the entry in their writing by vigils. Their e-mail addresses were immediately removed and the newspaper website closed by the new owner.

Officially the publication was suspended the time to find another viable business model. "Not for political reasons," was quick to assure Fidesz. It is however proven that the Austrian buyer has played the role of nominee. After sixty years of existence, the venerable "Nepszabadsag" never reappeared, and the dozen regional titles of the group passed directly under the thumb of a close Orban.

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<p><i>Andràs Dési is a former journalist with the daily Nepszabadsag./LP/Philippe Martinat </i></p>
<p>Media control has long been one of Viktor Orban's obsessions. In 2010 when he returned to power, he had a first law passed to muzzle them. Today, only a tiny part of the press remains independent. Other media actively participate in the regime's propaganda.</p>
<p>"To say that in 1989, at the age of 25, Orban was the liberal hero who had risen up against the communist power by demanding, in the Heroes' Square where the memory of the martyrs who died in the 1956 uprising against the Soviets, free elections and the departure of Russian troops! "Is still surprised a journalist who attended at the time.</p>
<p>Klara Ungar, too, did not see anything coming, at least at the very beginning. This energetic woman with high cheekbones – who was one of the first Fidesz deputies and later also the first Hungarian political leader to publicly reveal her homosexuality – was nevertheless part of the tiny circle with whom Orban started his political career in 1988. "It was a really nice guy," she says, letting her intense blue eyes laugh.</p>
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<p><i>Klàra Ungàr, was among the first deputies of Fidesz./LP/Philippe Martinat </i></p>
<p>But she will leave Fidesz with two other leaders in November 1993, after discovering one of Orban's first financial shenanigans.</p>
<h2 class=Discredit political opponents

Orban's instrumentalization of the migration crisis did not surprise Klara Ungar: "Like Putin, his model, he has minutely weakened all counter-powers without complaining about methods to discredit his political opponents or NGOs that help refugees. . "

Orban's violent campaign last year against his compatriot George Soros, the billionaire who became his pet peeve, echoed on the posters the implicit codes of anti-Semitism of the 1920s and 1930s. At that time, one could see on the walls of Jews all smiles rejoicing in the Treaty of Trianon which dislocated Hungary in 1920.

To maintain the national rancor, the Hungarian government is currently building in Budapest, just behind the majestic Parliament, a memorial of 100 m in length which will identify the Hungarian cities annexed by neighboring countries …

Partisan of "illiberalism", a curious mixture of state interventionism, societal conservatism and nationalism, the master of Budapest has passed a battery of laws intended to intimidate his opponents. He amended the Constitution to include an article never used, mentioning that organizations from the former Communist Party can be considered criminal. "I'm not scared, but I keep this threat in my head, and it is perfectly clear with my wife and my eldest son that I can be arrested one day," said Tibor Szanyi, elected from the PS, who is in Hungary the heir of the ex-PC.

Human rights NGOs face laws, taxes or constraints on absurd mechanisms for helping refugees. "Not a single investigation has been launched against us by the prosecutors, but the goal is to scare and put pressure on people," says Andras Lederer of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee.

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<p><i>Andràs Léderer, head of the NGO Hungarian Helsinki Committee, which assists refugees / LP / Philippe Martinat </i></p>
<p>The plate of his organization has recently been covered by pro-Orban deceptive stickers: "NGOs support immigration". Bad reminiscence: the same building had already been marked with the yellow star by the Nazis during the last world war … "In this provincial Hungary and still feudal anti-Semitic soil and anti-Gypsy, campaign against foreign people, Muslim or having dark skin is not difficult, "sighs Klara Ungar.</p>
<p>Hair scratch in the election campaign, the satirical party Dog with two tails annoys the power by diverting the slogan "no to Trianon" in "no to triathlon". To mock the notorious corruption of the regime, Zsolt Victora, one of the figures of the movement, distributes a sticker saying to the voters: "It is almost certain that one does not steal".</p>
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<p><i>Zsolt Victora is a figure of the Hungarian satirical party The Dog with two tails./LP/Philippe Martinat </i></p>
<p>The Coluchian party has also issued fake banknotes with the effigies of Orban's Turk heads: George Soros and Jean-Claude Juncker are the biggest cuts. But the party is now threatened with prosecution by the tax authorities for issuing counterfeit money.</p>
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<p><i>Ferenc Gyurcsany, former Hungarian prime minister and chairman of the opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) may be the most dangerous rival for Orban./LP/Philippe MARTINAT </i></p>
<p>The opponents of Viktor Orban are beginning to despair of seeing him one day leave power. "His message is sad, he himself is very tired, never smiles, says the journalist Andras Desi. He poses as a leader who carries all the problems of the world on his shoulders, which he reduces to immigration. Ferenc Gyurcsany, may be the most dangerous rival for Orban, is more optimistic: "Even the worst regimes have an end, the question is where and when. "</p>
<h2 class=THE PLACE. Röszke on the border with Serbia

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<p><i>It was here that from June to September 2015, a flood of tens of thousands of migrants had poured into Hungary./AFP/Ferenc Isza </i></p>
<p>The grass has not pushed back between the rusty rails that continue towards Serbia, barred by a metal gate bristling with barbed wire. The silence is oppressive. On either side, a triple fence runs as far as the eye can see. A sign warns that the dirt road that runs along the fence is "private", reserved for police and military. Small yellow placards alternately written in Serbian, Hungarian, Arabic and English indicate that the fence is electrified. Everything happens under the dull and silent eye of surveillance cameras.</p>
<p>There is no longer any soul in this place where, from June to September 2015, a flood of tens of thousands of migrants had poured into Hungary (and into the Schengen area), fleeing the war in Syria and in Afghanistan or simply the misery of the South.</p>
<p>A few hundred meters away, houses in the village of Röszke are leaning against the fence. "Now we have found calm and peace," sigh Istvan and Irén Molnar. At the peak of the migratory crisis, nearly five hundred people had run out, exhausted, in the yard of their house and the surrounding fields.</p>
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<p><i>"It made us sick to see these families," recalls Irén Molnar, whose house is close to the border fence. / AFP / Ferenc Isza </i></p>
<p>"They did not break anything, steal anything, but it was an unsustainable situation," says Istvan, a former mason who is retiring by cultivating a few acres of land. Although critical of the government, the couple wholeheartedly endorse Viktor Orban's decision: "His policy of defending the border was the best solution! No one wanted to live here, the properties were worthless. "</p>
<p>In Röszke, geraniums are blooming again under greenhouses, ready to be shipped to Budapest. Istvan started the construction of a new house. But he and his wife have not forgotten anything about human distress: "It made us sick to see these families, those children who vomited. We did what we could to help them, we gave them water and tea. Last February, the fence was sheared and footsteps in the snow signaled the passage of one or two migrants at night. Since then, nothing.</p>
<h2 class=THESE CITIES THAT MAKE EUROPE
  • Berlin is slowly forgetting his wall
  • Rome, the eternal city where Europe was born
  • Athens, bruised by the crisis of the euro
  • Maastricht wants to revive the European flame
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