Orbán grants political asylum and prominent university is forced to relocate5 min read

– The end of October saw rising tensions on the Bosnian-Croatian border, where Croatian police were refusing migrants from Asia and Africa to enter into the European Union. As a result, Hungarian military has increased its presences along Hungary’s southern border. Lajos Kósa, head of parliament’s defense and law enforcement committee, stated that what had happened on the Bosnian-Croatian border was a repetition of the events that had taken place on the Serbian-Hungarian border in 2015 when refugees were refused entry into Hungary. In response to what the Hungarian government claimed were aggressive confrontations at the border, Hungarian riot police used tear gas and water cannons against the refugees who were standing on the Serbian side waiting to enter into Hungary. As Kósa warned that 70 000 migrants were headed towards Western Europe via the Balkan route, he promised that what had happened in 2015 would not be allowed to happen again.

Another government representative has stated that migrants arriving via the Balkan route were part of the “Soros Express” and a “dress-rehearsal” for pro-migration forces. According to Hungarian politician Istvan Hollik, this is all part of a greater scheme headed by the allies of George Soros, who are trying to make migration legal while forcing nation states to give up the rights to protect their borders. 87-year old Budapest-born George Soros is a philanthropist who is being labelled as one of the main enemies and opponents of the Hungarian government and state.

– On November 2nd, the Hungarian Free Press reported that Hungarian authorities were responsible for assaulting homeless people. According to an investigative report on the 24.hu news website, a private security firm was hired by the local government in Csepel, a suburb to Budapest, and engaged in physically assaulting homeless people. Read more about the implementation of a new law criminalising homelessness in our last “What’s up Hungary?”

– At a plenary session  of the Hungarian Diaspora Council on November 11th, Viktor Orbán said that Hungary should be among the best and most competitive countries of the European Union in 2030. In order to reach this goal, Hungary must build an strong and independent military, reverse the country’s negative demographic trend, and diversify its energy supplies (moving away from its unilateral dependent on Russian energy).

During the same plenary session, Orbán also predicted that after next year’s European Parliament election, the European institutions will become “more strongly associated with the continent’s traditional values and roots” and that politics will be “more nationalist, right-wing, and more Christian.”

Hungarian opposition politician István Ujhelyo tweeted about convicted felon Nikola Gruevski’s appearance in Budapest. Source: Twitter  

– Former Prime Minister of Macedonia (2006-2016), Nikola Gruevski appeared in Budapest on November 12th, two days after he was supposed to start serving a two year prison sentence for corruption in his home country. On November 20th, Gruevski was formally granted political asylum in Hungary.

Though the Hungarian government denied having any part in Gruevski’s flight, Albanian police on November 22nd confirmed that Gruevski had been driven from Montenegro via Albania to Budapest in Hungarian diplomatic cars.

Gruevski and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán are close political allies; not only did the Hungarian government help finance a fence on the Greek-Macedonian border during the migration crisis in 2015, but Orbán has also participated in Gruevski’s election campaigns.

While the former prime minister used facebook to tell his followers that he would have risked being murdered by the incumbent Macedonian government if he had stayed to serve his prison sentence, the European Union has criticised the actions taken by the Hungarian government to protect a convicted felon. Already on November 21st, the European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn tweeted “I take notes of reports on Hungary’s decision to grant political asylum to Nikola Gruevski. If confirmed, I expect a sound explanation of its grounds by Viktor Orbán.”

– On November 20th, Mr. László Kövér, Speaker of the Hungarian National Assembly, visited Turkey to attend an international conference in which Hungary was accepted into the Assembly of Turkic Speaking Countries. Kövér stated that Hungarians and Turkic people are linked through “kinship, shared traditions, similarities in their languages, as well as historical ties”.

Despite the fact that credible linguistics claim that the Hungarian language belongs to the Finn-Ugric language family, Prime Minister Viktor Orban has previously stated that  “Hungarians see themselves as the late descendants of Attila the Hun,” and that the nation’s citizens are proud of their Hun-Turkic origins as well as their language being related to the Turkic languages.

Hungarian Turanism dates back the 19th century and in the 20th century the movement was connected to Hungarian fascism. Proponents argued that their supposed Eastern and Central Asian decent made them racially superior to other Europeans who were “corrupted by Judaism”. Hungarian Turanism also highlighted Hungary’s position as a bridge between East and West. Experts or no experts, it’s clear that language is a political question in Hungary.

Protests against some of the legislative amendments that resulted in the Central European University closing in Budapest on December 3rd. Source: Equaltimes 

– On December 3rd, it was confirmed that the Central European University (CEU), known to hold some of the world’s top ranked university programs, will be forced out of Hungry. Allegedly, already enrolled students will be allowed to finish their degrees in Budapest while the new cohorts of 2019 will be relocated to Vienna, Austria. The CEU President and Rector Michael Ignatieff remarked on Monday remarked that  “CEU has been forced out. This is unprecedented. A U.S. institution has been driven out of a country that is a NATO ally. A European institution has been ousted from a member state of the EU.”

The CEU is a private university accredited in Hungary and the United States. It was founded in 1991 by Georges Soros. The school is viewed by the Orbán regime as a defender of liberalism that presents a threat to the government’s vision of creating an “illiberal democracy”.  

Main sources: Dagens Nyheter (SV), Hungarian Freepress (EN), The Hungarian Journal (EN)

Amanda Sonesson holds a BA in Economic History at Stockholm University and has previously lived, studied and worked in Russia and Kyrgyzstan. Currently she is studying in the CEERES program hosted by University of Glasgow, Scotland, focusing on gender issues, democracy, politics and society in Russia and Central Asia. Additionally she owns a secret collection of Putin memorabilia and loves everything (post) Soviet.