Hungary is a country located in Central Europe. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in January that the EU should build fences along Greece’s northern border with Turkey to stop migrants from entering the Union. The government also said that the country was prepared to build its own fence along its eastern border with Romania. According to thereligionfaqs, Hungary already had razor blade fences along the southern border with Serbia and Croatia.
Orbán’s government opposed the EU’s decision to compulsorily allocate quotas with asylum seekers among member states. The government therefore decided to hold a referendum on Hungary’s attitude to EU refugee policy. The EU reacted, pointing out that the quota decision was taken by all EU members.
In Miskolc in northern Hungary, a protest movement was launched against the government’s education system, which was accused of being politicized, authoritarian and detailed. The protest was supported by schools throughout the country. Demonstrations were held outside the Parliament in Budapest with demands for a return to locally run schools and freedom for teachers to choose textbooks. The government started negotiations with the teachers and replaced a responsible secretary of state.
In March, the Swedish Migration Court stopped the refusal of asylum seekers to Hungary in accordance with the Dublin Convention. The Court considered that they risked inhumane treatment and were not guaranteed protection since Hungary made it possible to send asylum seekers back to Serbia and from there backwards so that they could end up in the countries they were moving from.
According to countryaah, the current population of Hungary is 9,660,362. Orbán strengthened his powers when he passed a law in March that gave the government the right to decide on new budget expenditures without Parliament’s scrutiny and without having reported funding.
Negotiations between the government and the teachers’ unions failed, and in April, teachers in about 1,200 schools went on a one-day strike. They demanded more freedom, more resources and better working conditions.
- Abbreviation Finder: Check to see how the 3-letter abbreviation of HUN stands for the nation of Hungary in geography.
In June, Parliament voted for additional powers to the government in the fight against terrorism, including through increased surveillance and wider use of the army. The opposition protested and warned that the expanded power could be abused by Prime Minister Orbán. Among other things, the government can now repeal the existing law and introduce extra powers of power for 15 days in a situation termed a terrorist threat.
In August, Orbán said that a new fence with technically advanced surveillance equipment would be set up at the border with Serbia to counter possible new waves of migrants. The new barrier would strengthen the old in the event that Turkey’s migration policy changes and hundreds of thousands of people seek refuge on the Hungarian border, according to Orbán. The new fence was then built with prisoners as a labor force.
The Luxembourg Foreign Minister said in September that Hungary should be excluded from the EU for its anti-migrant policy that undermines EU values. Anyone who, like Hungary, builds fences against war refugees or does violence to freedom of the press and the independence of the judiciary should be excluded from the Union, it was called. The Hungarian Foreign Minister responded that his country defended Europe throughout history, and he described his colleague from Luxembourg as condescending, malicious and frustrated.
Shortly before Hungary was to hold a referendum on EU refugee policy came harsh criticism from Amnesty International, which accused the country of deliberately treating refugees and migrants to deter them from entering the EU. According to Amnesty, the Orbán government sought to replace the rule of law with a state of fear.
Several migrants were sentenced to prison and deportation during the year for having entered Hungary illegally. A Syrian-Cypriot man was sentenced to ten years in prison for terrorist acts by stone-throwing against police when he wanted to cross the border from Serbia.
Ahead of the referendum in October, the government ran a media campaign in which refugees were described negatively and crimes committed by migrants in Europe were listed. Orbán urged voters to reject the EU refugee quota, saying there was a link between migration and terrorism. He suggested that the EU should build refugee camps in Libya or on a remote island, where migrants would be sent and from where they could seek asylum in the EU.
The election results showed that just over 98% voted no for the reception of refugees and for the EU’s refugee quotas, which for Hungary applied to 1,294 asylum seekers. But the opposition’s call for electoral boycotts had apparently been heeded, the turnout did not reach 50%. Thus, the result was not valid. Orbán still saw the election as a victory for his politics and said he intended to change the constitution so that the EU could not force its policy on Hungary. The anti-alien party Jobbik urged Orbán to resign, saying he weakened Hungary’s position in Europe with a referendum that failed.
The leading opposition newspaper Népszabadság was closed in October. According to the owner Mediaworks, it was due to poor finances, but the opposition believed that the Orbán government was pushing or threatening its worst critics. Thousands of people demonstrated in Budapest against Orbán and for freedom of the press. Mediaworks was acquired by a media group whose owner supported Orbán.
The government’s attack on freedom of the press, judiciary and constitution caused the human rights organization Fidh to make harsh criticism of the EU for not doing enough to protect democracy in Hungary.
In November, Parliament voted down the Government’s proposal to amend the Constitution. The proposal would have meant that the EU could not force Hungary to accept foreign nationals. Jobbik abstained when the party failed to hear its demand for a ban on the right of well-off foreigners to buy a residence permit.
Orbán hailed Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election as a happy news, and he supported Trump primarily for his opposition to Muslim immigration.
During the year, Budapest Nobel Laureate in Literature Imre Kertész, 86 years old, died. He was described as a writer who made the Holocaust real and understandable. His novel The Man Without Fate, which is about a teenager in a death camp, received wide international attention but was met by silence in Hungary.