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WHY DID VIKTOR ORBAN REJECT THE PROPOSAL WHICH WOULD HAVE RELIEVED HUNGARY OF 54,000 ASYLUM SEEKERS?

I was talking to the taxi driver on the way to Budapest airport today about Viktor Orban opting out of the scheme  to take 54,000 asylum seekers out of Hungary and getting a flat rate of 500 euro for the transport costs for each person. He said surely I’d got it wrong.  I said he could go to the EU Commission website and see for himself. I don’t understand why the Hungarian government rejected the measure either and anyone who can give me a sensible answer is cordially invited to post it on this blog.

At first the scheme was only for Greece and Italy, the EU border states which have most struggled with large flows of asylum seekers.  Then during the first eight months of 2015 Hungary experienced more than 145000 irregular border crossings with the so called Balkan route suddenly surging in popularity.  Because of this the Hungarian State was awarded almost 7 million euro emergency funding under the EU Asylum Migration and Integration Fund and the Internal Security Fund. So far however, only 3000 people have been registered and it is clear that the government are more intent on sealing borders to prevent more arrivals than registering and processing the people who are already there.

So this 9th September, the European Commission proposed the emergency relocation of 120,000 asylum seekers away from Greece, Italy and Hungary thereby relieving some of the pressure those countries are experiencing in registering and processing all the arrivals.  Member states receiving the asylum seekers would get 6000 Euro per person including 50% money up front so that they could act fast.  States from where the asylum seekers are relocated would get 500 euro per head for transportation costs.  The distribution of the asylum seekers would be done on the basis of a quota system.  The European Parliament had its say on the matter on the 17th September and gave the scheme its blessing.

When the  EU Justice and Home Affairs council of Ministers met to adopt the Commission proposal last week, Hungary did not wish to be included as beneficiary of the emergency relocation scheme “ The Council agreed that the 54,000 who would have been taken out of Hungary will now be relocated from other countries which suddenly find themselves under pressure following a sudden inflow of third country nationals.

Why?

Commission proposal in Hungarian http://goo.gl/1WCOz6

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Europe is acting in a concerted fashion at last – almost…

 

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There have been two important meetings this week in Brussels.  On Tuesday 22nd, the Justice and Home Affairs Ministers of the EU plus Switzerland, Norway and Iceland adopted a decision to relocate 120,000 people from Greece and Italy over a period of about two years. The states joining in this scheme will receive 6,000 euro for each relocated person.  The ministers invoked the principle of solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility between Member States and despite squawking from the usual suspects, the decision was agreed on by a very large majority.  Poland opted in with the majority abandoning her Visegrad fellows. Hungary has opted out of the scheme, the whole purpose of which is to lighten the load of the countries which have been overwhelmed by asylum seekers. There are about 50,000 asylum seekers on Hungarian soil at this moment and the Hungarian government are building walls and bringing in the army to stop any more from entering. Before the meeting ministers were each in turn greeted by the press of their countries and it was the moment for a short slogan filled audiovisual opportunity. Swiss President Simonetta Somarruga hit the nail on the head by saying that only a coordinated approach would do – a patchwork of national solutions was no longer on the table.

The 120,000 registered asylum seekers will be allocated to various countries on the basis of the agreed proportional quota system.  Not discussed was a standard procedure and time period necessary for processing asylum applications. This varies very widely from state to state and is an opportunity for corruption.  There is also the issue of choice. German Foreign Minister Thomas de Maiziere has said that refugees may not choose where in Europe they will settle but in practice it is difficult to imagine asylum seekers being forcibly transported to countries where they don’t want to go. Only after a period of five years will they have the right to settle in countries outside the one which has granted asylum. Priority will be given to Syrians, Iraqis and Eritreans, especially to more vulnerable people.

The second important meeting was the informal summit of European leaders and Heads of State held on the 24th which went on until after one o’clock in the morning. At the press conference Donald Tusk, President of the European Council announced a list of measures which had been adopted and Commission President Junkers added that the atmosphere had been better than expected.  “Hotspots” – that is to say centres for registering and fingerprinting  will be established at the borders of the Union to ensure efficient classification of the status of those entering and their subsequent relocation or return – at the latest by November.  The utter inefficiency of the Hungarian government to provide decent facilities where people entering could wait was one of the reasons for tensions flaring and for Angela Merkel unilaterally citing emergency provisions to enable Germany to register and process the people who had entered the EU in Hungary.  According to the Dublin III regulation it is the state of entry that should do this. Rather than decent receptions centres Viktor Orban’s government has preferred to spend EU resources on fences and avoid allocating funds to any measures which might have made the asylum seekers feel welcome. We have all seen the pictures.  I was dismayed to hear more racist ranting on a radio station this morning as Slovak citizens expressed disgust at all these horrible migrants coming through their country “because they want better life”.  Is it extraordinary to dare for a better life, especially when your last year has been spend in an unsanitary camp in Jordan with few prospects?  The fact that some refugees have not come directly from Syria but from these camps has some people up in arms with indignation as they are saying that they are just economic refugees and shouldn’t be allowed in.  I have talked to members of the extreme right in Hungary and asked them if they don’t think this is a hypocritical stance as there are so many Hungarians who have moved to the richer parts of the EU because they just want more stuff but the answer is invariably that they have to go because the government is not capable of assuring them a livelihood. Another assertion popular on right wing blogs and in the press is that asylum seekers from war zones are cowards who should stay behind and fight to get their country back from ISIS.  At the same time disgruntled Hungarians seem to thing it’s OK to abandon their country and leave it up to the governmnent to sort out its economic problems – surely a much less daunting prospect than being caught between ISIS and Assad’s forces no matter how much of a mess the economy is in. So sad that now that the former Soviet Block countries have been safely welcomed into the European fold – a place of aspiration for decades during the cold war, they don’t want anyone else coming in. And certainly not if they are the wrong colour or creed.

I’ve never been a great fan of Vladimir Putin but he got it right yesterday when speaking at the inauguration of the renewed Grand Mosque in the Russian capital.  In a country where extremist haters are not shy, his speech sent a strong signal about the country’s Muslims being an integral part of society in Russia.  I had had the impression that the farther east you travel in Europe, the more islamophobic, but Putin appears to have seized this opportunity to set a very welcoming tone.  However cynical a move, it’s an intelligent one.  Rejecting whole groups in your community will turn them against you and provide a fertile ground for recruitment for extremist groups.  Compare this with Orban publicly qualifying Roma Hungarian citizens as aliens which he generously was not bothering the rest of Europe with.  A Roma mayor resigned in protest at the slur. It’s a good illustration of how to create enemies.

A further important point is that Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey will be assisted by the EU in dealing with the refugee crisis.  Turkey has over two million refugees so far and between 30 and 40% of the Lebanese population are refugees.  A particularly difficult point is that Lebanon was occupied by Syria between 1976 and 2005 so understandably there are tensions, not to mention the situation of Syrian Kurds in Turkey.  The EU will give one billion euro additional funding for the UN High Commisioner for Refugees and for the World Food Programme.  More money will also be allocated to address the root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa.  A plea was also made for renewed diplomatic efforts to solve the crisis in Syria and to ensure the formation of a government of national unity in Libya where refugees tend to be IDPs (Internally Displaced People).

The next European Summit will be held on the 15th – 16th October where the European leaders and heads of state will once again focus on migration.

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What did the EU Home and Justice Ministers actually decide?

DSC_6254At the EU Home and Justice Ministers emergency summit yesterday the only firm decision taken was to meet again in October to then take a firm decision on the allocation of the estimated 160,000 asylum seekers and to drop the word “mandatory” from the Junkers plan.  This is perhaps not as hopeless as first sounds. For a start, the countries against mandatory quotas may well have gone home to announce triumphantly that they have not been bullied into taking quotas of refugees but they should still not be allowed to get away with pandering to racist sentiment. By the time they meet again several things will have changed. Under the terms of Dublin III Schengen countries can reintroduce border controls to cope with an emergency (tick box) and this will have a big impact on traffic conditions. The Polish government may find itself assailed by protests to do something because hours lost at the border will be harming the economic interests of those Poles who travel to Germany to work and do business. Countries in Central and Eastern Europe who refuse to do their fair share may also find themselves losing out when in comes to EU funds being doled out.  The EU money spent on this emergency in the countries stepping up to the plate may mean less for those which turned their backs.

Some people have said that even if people are granted asylum in one country, if it is not their refuge of choice they will just hop off to do some benefit shopping.  It’s not that simple.  Once an asylum seeker has been granted the status of refugee, s/he will  only be eligible for benefits in the country of asylum.  If that refugee finds work, s/he will begin to build up pension and benefit rights by way of wage deductions.  The European Court of Justice has ruled that after five years such a refugee will have the same rights of free circulation as European Union citizens. Illegal workers are a different matter.

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Hungary has now “hermetically sealed” its border with Serbia and army units are patrolling the area.  According to a new emergency law rushed through parliament last week, it is now a crime to enter Hungary illegally, no matter that this contravenes the Geneva Convention on Refugees according to which people fleeing persecution have a right to seek asylum.  What seems to matter most to the Hungarian Prime Minister is winning in the race to the bottom against the increasingly popular extreme right in his country. Many Hungarians have felt ashamed and terribly frustrated by the actions of their government.  I was shocked to receive a Facebook posting from a charity in England describing the situation of the refugees in Hungary which said:

” It is generally frowned upon in this part of the world to help the refugees.  Unthinkable.”

Many Hungarians have felt ashamed and terribly frustrated by the incompetent actions of their government. It is true that the UNHCR and the Red Cross offered help with registering refugees but were rebuffed and the UNHCR said only a few days ago that they received permission from the authorities to erect tents. (Bit late now, there won’t be any refugees in Hungary by the time you read this). The NGOs in the meantime have been working around the clock and overwhelmed by donations from the public. So just to be clear:  it is certainly NOT frowned upon in this part of the world to help the refugees.   What I find bothersome is the way the Hungarians are being singled out as the bad boys in Europe when a) there are other countries guilty of at least the same attitude and b) this is a problem that has deep and multiple roots. Number one, the instability in the Middle East and North Africa with the spawning of the heinous ISIS organisation is a direct corollary to the so called Coalition of the Willing descending on Iraq on the basis of the totally fabricated WMD bogeyman.  This has led to the inevitable mass dislodging of populations who need to go somewhere and to the continued destabilisation of the region which means that the superpower  (there is only one now) can take on contenders in proxy battles in countries where it considers the inhabitants to be unpeople.DSC_6272

Back to Hungary – the big new expensive fence is now up – at last tweet there have already been 45 arrests.  The unwelcoming-to-the-max makeshift reception centres are emptying out rapidly, coinciding with the first news editorials which revel in the fact the the Austrians and Germans have now got so overwhelmed that they’ve had to invoke Schengen emergency provisions and temporarily reinstate border controls.   This has caused the Chancellor to be attacked by her political opponents in her own country as physical resources to deal with the huge influx are strained.  For a start border guards are having to be requisitioned out of retirement to police the crossings. This entails having to set up office buildings and infrastructure fast.  On the bright side this has meant the creation of an extra 20,000 jobs as well as the promise of legions of refugee children growing up to be productive members of German society.  It is they who will pay the retirement pensions of an ageing population which stubbornly refuses to make enough babies.  The Austrians have also had to reinstate border controls to cope with trying to register people.  This is not in any way the kind of fence the Hungarians or Bulgarians have and gloating about the Germans and Austrians now being in their shoes is wholly inappropriate.  The main thing for Viktor Orban is that he has scored political points by making the problem go away and leaving others in Europe to clear up the mess while claiming to have respected Dublin III to the letter.  He was aided in this by the Germans and their mixed messages.  When Chancellor Merkel decided to suspend Dublin III rules in order to spare refugees the hell of waiting for days in unsanitary conditions to be registered in Hungary,  Interior Minister Thomas De Maiziere backed her but insisted that the Dublin rules were still valid.  This is clearly posted in bright red letters on the web page of the German Embassy in Budapest in Hungarian and English.  Viki must be rubbing his hands …

Terri Potoczna Fussen

 

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Extract from the fawning article about Asma al-Assad as it appeared in Vogue

Breathtakingly ironic article about Assad’s wife and how modern and wonderful they are:

From Vogue:

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Syria is known as the safest country in the Middle East, possibly because, as the State Department’s Web site says, “the Syrian government conducts intense physical and electronic surveillance of both Syrian citizens and foreign visitors.” It’s a secular country where women earn as much as men and the Muslim veil is forbidden in universities, a place without bombings, unrest, or kidnappings, but its shadow zones are deep and dark. Asma’s husband, Bashar al-Assad, was elected president in 2000, after the death of his father, Hafez al-Assad, with a startling 97 percent of the vote. In Syria, power is hereditary.

The first lady’s central mission is to change the mind-set of six million Syrians under eighteen, encourage them to engage in what she calls “active citizenship.” “It’s about everyone taking shared responsibility in moving this country forward, about empowerment in a civil society. We all have a stake in this country; it will be what we make it.”

She managed to get people to consider the possibilities of a country that’s modernizing itself, that stands for a tolerant secularism in a powder-keg region—and that rests largely on the shoulders of the President and First Lady.

Asma al-Assad: A Rose in the Desert

 

extracts from a now deleted Vogue article from 2011

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First Lady of Syria is British Born Asma al-Assad (lifted from Wikipedia)

220px-Asma_al-AssadAsma al-Assad (born 11 August 1975, née Asma Akhras)  is a British-Syrian. She was born to Syrian-born parents, raised and educated in the United Kingdom, and graduated from King’s College London in 1996 with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and French literature. She briefly pursued a career in international investment banking before moving to Syria to marry President Bashar al-Assad in December 2000.

She grew up in Acton where she went to Twyford Church of England High Schooland her friends called her Emma.  Afterwards, she moved on to a private girls’ school, Queen’s College. Finally, she graduated from Kings College London in 1996 with a first-class bachelor of science degree in computer science and a diploma in French literature.

Syrian civil war

A serious blow was dealt to her public image since the Syrian Civil War[2] intensified in early 2012 amid reports of her extravagant personal shopping.[17] A new picture emerged in western media “of a woman closer in spirit to Imelda Marcos than the moderating counselor to her husband’s excesses that she was once seen as being”.[23] The Daily Telegraph reported that in January 2012, despite worldwide condemnation of her husband’s government, she appeared with him and two of their children at a pro-government rally.[24]

The first lady was criticized for remaining silent throughout the beginning of the Syrian uprising.[2] She issued her first official statement to international media since the insurrection began in February 2012, nearly a year after the first serious protests.[17][25][26] She sent an e-mail to The Times stating: “The President is the President of Syria, not a faction of Syrians, and the first lady supports him in that role.” The communique also described her continued support for charities and rural development activities.[27] Also in early February, she sent an email to the The Times declaring her support for her husband and related that she “comforts” the “victims of the violence”.[24][28]

On 23 March 2012, the European Union froze her assets and placed a travel ban on her and President Assad’s other close family members as part of escalating sanctions against the Syrian government.[29][30] Asma al-Assad herself remains able to travel to the UK because of her British nationality but she is barred from entering the rest of the EU.[31]

On 16 April 2012, Huberta von Voss Wittig and Sheila Lyall Grant, the wives of the German and British ambassadors to the United Nations, released a four-minute video asking Asma al-Assad to stand up for peace and urge her husband to end the bloodshed in her country.[32][33]

She had not been seen in public regularly since the July 2012 bombing of the Military Intelligence Directorate that took place in Damascus, leading to press speculation and government denials that she had fled the country or the capital city of Damascus.[34][35] She made a public appearance at the Damascus Opera House for an event called “Mother’s Rally” on 18 March 2013, refuting the rumors.[36][37] She made another public appearance in October 2013 and further dispelled the rumors of her fleeing the country by saying “I was here yesterday, I’m here today and I will be here tomorrow.”[38]

Vogue article

In March 2011, Vogue published a flattering profile of Syria’s first lady titled “A Rose in the Desert” authored by veteran fashion writer Joan Juliet Buck. The article was later removed from Vogue’s website without editorial comment that spring.[2][39][40] Responding to media inquiries about the disappearance of Assad’s profile, Vogue’s editor stated that “as the terrible events of the past year and a half unfolded in Syria, it became clear that [Syria’s] priorities and values were completely at odds with those of Vogue“.[41] After strong public and media reaction to the article, Buck’s contract was not renewed with Vogue although she had been employed by the magazine for over 30 years and had been an editor of French Vogue for seven years.[42] The New York Times later reported that the piece was intended as part of a larger Syrian government-sponsored image campaign coordinated by the public relations firm Brown Lloyd James.[41][43] Buck has since written another article for Newsweek giving an extremely critical account of Asma al-Assad, concluding that she is the “first lady of hell”.[42] Separately, Buck’s original profile of Assad was satirized in The Philadelphia Inquirer[44] and additional critical articles.[45][46][47][48]

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Interview with an anonymous policeman at Roszke

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https://refugeecrisisinhungary.wordpress.com/2015/09/13/breakdown-is-imminent-says-the-policeman-who-breaks-the-rules-and-speaks-to-a-journalist/

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Poland’s anti-immigrant march in Warsaw numbers 7,000

This truly saddens and disgusts me.

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Message from Alison Moses – Appeal to the US to share the burden…

Hi,

This petition is about humanitarian outreach and offering people a chance at life.

That’s why I created a petition to Rep. Chris Van Hollen (MD-8), Sen. Barbara Mikulski (MD-1), and Sen. Benjamin Cardin (MD-2), which says:

“Children, the faces of the future have no fault in the economic and social ills racking their country. While receiving refugees does not get at the root of the problem, it does help to save those who would like to see a better world for themselves and thus, for us all in an increasingly globalized, connected world. Be a global humanitarian representative to share the burden with Europe.”

Will you sign this petition? Click here:

http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/be-a-global-fearless-1?source=c.em.mt&r_by=5722477

Thanks!

Sincerely
Alison Moses

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Syrian Child at Keleti Station, Budapest – excited about catching the train to Germany

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International Solidarity with Refugees Day in Hungary – Keleti at 4pm

https://www.facebook.com/events/133823013631417/

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Solidarity with Refugees Day in Cities in Poland tomorrow (Bread and Salt Demonstrations) and on the same day counter demonstrations planned by the haters …)

From the Facebook page of the “Refugees Welcome” movement:

“We are meeting in Wroclaw and other cities in Poland on September 12th to express our solidarity with refugees and show that we are ready to help them:

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We are ashamed of the statements of many Polish politicians, journalists and people commenting on social media protesting against a common solution to the problem of refugees coming to Europe. Our moral obligation is to help people fleeing from war and persecution regardless of race, nationality or creed. Throughout history Poles have received refuge and help from foreign lands even from those which are considered culturally different. In the face of the dramatic circumstances of thousands of people seeking refuge in Europe, it is evident that we should offer help. We are aware of the need to implement intelligent long term aid and integration programmes but we do not agree that any difficulties or inconvenience may be an excuse for indifference to the plight of people running for their lives and trying to save their families. We oppose xenophobia, racism and the spreading of distorted and hurtful myths about other foreign cultures and religions.  We invite you all together with your friends and families .  Let us show that we are a society for which morality, hospitality and courage are not empty concepts.  Let us not just show the refugees, but also our children, our governments and the world.”

12 września spotykamy się we Wrocławiu oraz innych miastach Polski, aby wyrazić naszą solidarność z uchodźcami i pokazać, że chcemy i jesteśmy gotowi im pomagać.

Jest nam wstyd za wypowiedzi wielu polskich polityków, dziennikarzy i liczne głosy w mediach społecznościowych protestujące przeciw solidarnemu rozwiązywaniu problemu uchodźców w gronie europejskich państw. Naszym moralnym obowiązkiem jest pomóc ludziom uciekającym przed wojną i prześladowaniami, bez względu na ich rasę, narodowość czy wyznanie. Uważamy, że naszym moralnym obowiązkiem jest pomóc ludziom uciekającym przed wojną i prześladowaniami, bez względu na ich rasę, narodowość czy wyznanie.
Polacy na przestrzeni dziejów wielokrotnie korzystali z gościnności i pomocy innych krajów i narodów – również określanych jako odległe nam kulturowo.
W obliczu dramatycznego położenia kilkuset tysięcy ludzi szukających schronienia w Europie, jest dla nas oczywiste, że powinniśmy tego schronienia udzielić.
Zdajemy sobie sprawę z konieczności wdrożenia długofalowych i mądrych programów pomocy i integracji, ale nie zgadzamy się aby jakiekolwiek trudności czy niewygody były wymówką dla obojętności wobec ludzi uciekających przed śmiercią i ratujących swoje rodziny.
Przeciwstawiamy się ksenofobii, rasizmowi i powielaniu krzywdzących mitów na temat innych kultur i wyznań.

Zapraszamy Was wszystkich wraz przyjaciółmi i rodzinami. Pokażmy, że jesteśmy społeczeństwem dla którego moralność, gościnność i odwaga nie są pustymi hasłami.
Pokażmy uchodźcom ale też swoim dzieciom, naszym władzom i światu.

I hope they get a lot of support

 

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