Views like Attila’s are heard throughout the village, and many people there echo Orban’s claim that the arrival of large numbers of Muslims refugees in Europe threatens its security and traditional Christian identity and values.
Orban yesterday rebuked the European Union over its response to the refugee crisis, which has deeply shaken the bloc, which has yet to fully recover from recent agonies over a bankrupt Greece and troubled euro.
“Many journalists, public speakers, politicians in Europe promote a suicidal liberalism that risks our values and puts our way of life in danger,” he said. “If one jumps from the 20th floor, one could view this as an expression of freedom from a liberal point of view, while in fact it looks more like suicide.”
The arrival this year of hundreds of thousands of people from the Middle East and other parts of Asia and Africa has, with alarming speed, crippled border and transport systems in Central Europe and cast doubt on the future of the EU’s cherished Schengen system of passport-free travel across 26 states.
Europe’s drive to dismantle borders since the fall of the Iron Curtain and Berlin Wall in 1989 has gone into sudden reverse, with Schengen states — including Germany, Austria and Denmark — reinstating border controls and, in the case of several countries, sending troops to frontier areas to support overstretched police.
Thousands of refugees crossing the Balkans have rerouted their westward journey through Croatia and Slovenia to avoid Hungary’s fence — a development that Orban’s allies say proves the success of his hard-line stance.
Orban’s chief of staff, Janos Lazar, declared that the “assertive, uncompromising defense of the border has visibly held back human trafficking and forces them to change direction. That was the aim of the entire action.”
Countries that denounced Orban’s fence building and legal crackdown on asylum seekers are now improvising drastic security solutions of their own to cope with the sudden arrival of thousands of refugees.
After more than 14,000 people crossed its eastern border in 48 hours, Croatia closed road links with Serbia yesterday and bused hundreds of refugees to Hungary. Slovenia halted rail services from Croatia to stop thousands of refugees arriving by train, and Serbia threatened to sue its neighbors for closing their frontiers and potentially trapping huge numbers of people in its territory.
Leaders and interior ministers of EU states will meet next week for what the United Nations refugee agency said “may be the last opportunity for a positive, united and coherent European response to this crisis.”
As well as Hungary’s hard-line handling of asylum seekers, its rejection — along with several other Central European states — of a German-led plan for all EU members to take a quota of refugees has riled Berlin and other capitals.
“Europe is a community of values based on human sympathy and solidarity. And those that don't share our values can’t count on our money over time,” Germany’s Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Friday. “If it continues like this, then Europe is in danger, more than it was from the financial crisis or the Greece crisis.”
In Horgos, a village of 5,700 people on the Serbian side of Hungary’s fence, a sense of crisis is palpable, and residents envy the relief now felt across the fields and forest in Asotthalom.
Hundreds of refugees still roam the streets and wander up to the barrier on the border in the hope that Orban may relent and let them continue their voyage toward Western and Northern Europe.
Most refugees moving north are rerouting through Croatia, but dozens still arrive daily in Horgos, unaware that this well-trodden route is now blocked or hoping that Europe’s ever-changing border policy will shift again in their favor.
Horgos residents fear the poorest refugees will be trapped here, without money or smartphones to help them make new plans and move on, as the cool nights of early autumn inevitably bring thoughts of many cold, wet months ahead.
Even away from the fence and Hungarian riot police, there is tension between tired, hungry and increasingly desperate refugees and locals who are sick of strangers filling their streets and shops and using their precious fields as places to sleep, defecate and take fruit from the trees, devastating the autumn harvest.
“No one knows what will happen — whether they will get stuck and stay here,” said Horgos resident Frigyes Balint. “If the EU wants to be a Christian Europe, it should build a fence farther south. If the EU can’t protect its borders and guarantee the free flow of people inside those borders, then it won’t be a European union for long. And Serbia won’t want to join such a union.”
He, like many other residents on both sides of the border, believe there are terrorists among the refugees and demand a tougher stance from the EU’s leaders — above all, German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“After making trouble in Syria and around there, they’ve been paid to come here. They are not just refugees or migrants. They have been sent here by some people,” Balint said.
He added, “Madame Merkel should understand that this is aggression against Europe.”