Doctors Without Borders criticizes European Union anti-refugee policies


This video says about itself:

No Man’s Land For Refugees Between Hungary And Barbed Wire

15 September 2015

Ten of thousands of refugees have fled their homelands, heading to the Hungarian border and hoping to find peace in Europe. But Hungary has put up barbed wire to stop the refugees and passed harsh new anti-refugee laws.

From MSF/Doctors Without Borders, about the crisis for refugees and anti-refugee policies in the European Union:

Obstacle Course to Europe: A Policy-Made Humanitarian Crisis at EU Borders, December 2015

Report from Médecins Sans Frontières

Published on 19 January 2016

During 2015 MSF teams provided just under 100,000 medical consultations on three search and rescue vessels in the Mediterranean, in Greece, Italy, throughout the Balkans and we are now working in northern France. Many of these consultations were for illnesses and injuries sustained on the life threatening journeys that people were forced to take for want of a safe, legal alternative. In Serbia, for example, 80% of the consultations performed by our medics were related to the tough conditions on the journey.

The lack of adequate reception conditions to meet basic humanitarian standards also took their toll. MSF treated people for hypothermia and exhaustion after they were forced to sleep outside or wait in long queues without access to shelter, toilets, food, water or sanitation for days at a time. We were often unable to move people out of these queues for medical reasons. Others were forced to languish in dire reception centres – in Italy conditions became so inhumane that MSF decided it had no choice but to leave.

MSF also witnessed states and governments actively obstructing efforts to improve conditions. In Kos, Greece, for example, there is still no reception facility, despite months of pleading by MSF for authorisation to improve reception facilities. Winter setting in and temperatures plummeting only adds to the suffering.

MSF also treated the psychological scars of the situations people had initially fled, the impact of the dire conditions on the journey and the uncertainty that people faced (a situation compounded by the lack of basic information available on the route). In late November, in Idomeni, for example, MSF psychologists noted a significant increase in the number of panic attacks and self-harm attempts, a direct consequence of the dire conditions faced by people at the border with FYROM and ongoing uncertainty about their futures.

Arbitrary decisions by governments along the route also increased the suffering and danger faced by people. Each time a border closed without consultation with the neighbouring country thousands were abruptly halted, stranded in no man’s land with little or no humanitarian assistance.

The policies of deterrence, border control and security have failed to deter people, working only to increase their suffering by making the journey to Europe more miserable, more dangerous and more expensive.

The report then moves onto identifying policy responses that would minimise suffering and save lives, centred largely on providing protection to people who need it. This includes safe and legal alternatives to dangerous journeys in the hands of smugglers, decent reception, proactive search and rescue. It also includes safe passage between EU countries and an end to acts of violence and abuse from state authorities.

Commenting on the report, Vickie Hawkins, MSF executive director, said:

“Through Greece, Italy, the Balkans and in northern France, MSF teams have witnessed first-hand the fundamental inhumanity of the political response to the European refugee crisis. By putting concerns of borders, security and deterrence ahead of the needs of those caught up in this crisis, politicians have failed in their responsibility to protect people, instead actively increasing suffering and costing lives. Whilst MSF can treat wounds and try to heal psychological scars, unless European governments abandon their obstacle course approach in 2016 the extreme suffering and death will continue.”

Hungarian nazi not honoured with statue


This 2013 video is called Hungary’s Jobbik party hold anti-Semitic rally.

From the Jewish Telegraph Agency:

Hungarian town votes down contested statue for anti-Jewish politician

December 18, 2015 7:53am

BUDAPEST (JTA) — Following an outcry, a municipality in central Hungary cancelled its plan to erect a statue commemorating a statesman who drafted anti-Semitic laws during the Holocaust.

The city council of Szekesfehervar voted down on Friday the plan to erect with public funding a statue in memory of Balint Homan, the Clubradio station reported.

He served as minister of education and religion in the 1940s and was partly responsible for drafting legislation in 1938 and 1939 to restrict the rights of Jews in Hungary and for the deportation in 1944 of 420,000 Jews to Auschwitz.

The plan to erect a statue in his honor provoked protests by local and international Jewish groups, including the World Jewish Congress and the Anti-Defamation League.

The private fund that initiated the statue’s erection this week sent a letter to the municipality and to the mayor, informing them that they are withdrawing the Homan statue project. The foundation also repaid authorities the $55,000 paid by them for the project.

Statue for Hungarian anti-Semite?


This video says about itself:

Shock over Hungary Anti-Semitism: Diplomats, Jewish leaders protest against planned statue

14 December 2015

Washington has expressed shock and disappontent at Hungarian plans to erect a statue of Balint Homan, a WWII politician who contributed to murderous anti-Semitism in Hungary in the 1930s and 1940s.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Anti-fascist crowds bid to halt pro-nazi statue

Tuesday 15th December 2015

DIPLOMATS, anti-fascists and Jewish groups held a candle-lit demonstration in Szekesfehervar, Hungary, on Sunday evening against a planned statue honouring late pro-nazi minister Balint Homan.

As a minister in the 1930s Mr Homan spearheaded anti-semitic legislation before urging the deportation of Hungarian Jews in 1944.

Nazi Germany and its Arrow Cross Party allies murdered 565,000 Hungarian Jews during the second world war.

After Hungary’s liberation by the Red Army, war criminal Mr Homan was sentenced to life imprisonment for voting to declare war on the Soviet Union in 1941. He died in jail in 1951.

“Balint Homan was an emblematic figure in the humiliation and deportation of Hungarian Jews,” said Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities president Andras Heisler.

“He was an anti-semite who does not deserve to be honoured.”

From YouTube:

NEW YORK/BUDAPEST, July 8 [2015] – The World Jewish Congress (WJC) is urging authorities in a Hungarian city to abandon plans to honor a Horthy-era government minister well known for his actions against the Jews. Municipal leaders in Székesfehérvár, a city of 100,000 inhabitants located between Budapest and Lake Balaton, are planning to erect a life-size bronze statue in honor of Bálint Homan (1885-1951). It is to be funded in large part through a grant from the Hungarian Justice Ministry.

WJC President Ronald S. Lauder called on Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to block plans for the statue from moving forward. “Seventy years after the end of World War II, it is inconceivable and wrong for a city to erect a statue in honor of a known anti-Semite and a key figure in the persecution of Hungarian Jews before and during World War II. Homan was an outspoken supporter of Nazi Germany and the fascist Arrow Cross regime in 1944, and he remained unrepentant until his death,” said Lauder.

“Bálint Homan was an emblematic figure in the humiliation and deportation of Hungarian Jews. He was an anti-Semite who does not deserve to be honored, and doing so would insult the victims of the Holocaust,” declared WJC Vice-President András Heisler, who also serves as president of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (Mazsihisz).

In a letter to Székesfehérvár Mayor András Cser-Palkovics, a member of Orbán’s Fidesz party, Heisler recently wrote: “From October 1932, Bálint Hóman, as culture minister in several Hungarian governments, played a key role in the systematic outlawing of the Hungarian Jewish people. His name is connected to the first anti-Jewish law. He supported banning Jews from exercising certain professions. Before the German occupation [in 1944], he wanted to expel Jews and later served as a member of the Arrow Cross regime.”

Heisler added that no Hungarian citizen today could be proud of a personality like Homan, and he stressed that Homan’s academic achievements could not outweigh the role he played before and during the Holocaust.

Wildlife and water in eastern Europe, Rotterdam festival films


This video series is called The Danube – Amazon of Europe.

The organisers of the Wildlife Film Festival in Rotterdam in the Netherlands write about this:

Influenced by weather and climatic extremes, the Danube is in constant motion. Floods and drought determine life just as much as the seasons. They influence migration, mating and breeding, as well as hunting and hibernation of animals. Wherever the Danube flows, it impacts nature and people’s lives. The mighty river ends in a unique labyrinth of water, mud and reeds: the Danube delta. It is the last remaining major river delta in Europe and the largest reed bed on earth, used by huge colonies of pelicans, cormorants, sea eagles and spoonbills for breeding and nesting.

This video says about itself:

The cinema trailer of our natural history film “Wild Hungary – A Water Wonderland“.

The organisers of the Rotterdam festival write about this film:

A country like no other in Europe, Hungary is influenced by the rhythms of its rivers. White-tailed eagles, otters and enormous catfish share the wetlands with many other species living close to the local people often unnoticed. Wild Hungary is their intimate story.

German human rights activists help refugees escape from Hungary


Some of the over 100,000 who marched in London, England on September 12th 2015 against the Conservative government's asylum policies and in support of refugees

From daily News Line in Britain:

Monday, 5 October 2015

GERMAN ‘ESCAPE HELPERS’ RISKING JAIL TO HELP REFUGEES

GERMAN ‘escape helpers’ are driving to Hungary with cars and vans to collect refugees and ferry them across European borders, and back into Germany to start a new life.

Volunteers are with an activist group called ‘The Peng Collective’, they have helped organise and coordinate more than 100 volunteers. The 100 Germans call themselves ‘Fluchthelfer’, which roughly translates as ‘escape helpers’. The term has a unique historical significance in this country. During World War II, German Fluchthelfer helped Jews escape and hide from the Nazis.

The heroic actions, though carried out by volunteers and unpaid, are still considered ‘human smuggling’ under European law, meaning that ‘escape helpers’, if caught, can face jail. ‘Peng Collective’ movement has arisen in reaction to a controversial European Union law called the Dublin Regulation. It states that asylum seekers must be processed in the countries in which they first arrive in Europe.

On September 2, when Ole Seidenberg flicked on the morning news in Berlin and saw an image of a 3-year-old Syrian refugee who had washed up on a Turkish beach, he decided to become a ‘Fluchthelfer’. Seidenberg cancelled a holiday in the countryside that he and his wife had planned.

Instead, the 32-year-old drove out of Germany, through Austria, and into Hungary to pick up refugees and ferry them back to his home country, a move that would help them gain asylum.

Modern-day Fluchthelfer, for their part, are creating an underground ferrying service to sneak people from Hungary into Germany, so that the asylum seekers could have a better chance at gaining refugee status in Europe. ‘At the moment, there’s a lot of acceptance in society for Fluchthelfer,’ said Max a volunteer with the Peng Collective. ‘All the escape-helping movements in the past have been illegal,’ he said. ‘But they were justified in the books of history afterward.’

Ole Seidenberg’s first ‘escape helper’ journey began in early September. With a friend, he rented a silver Volkswagen Sharan, and left Berlin at night, driving through the Czech Republic and Slovakia to reach Hungary by Saturday morning. They heard that an area about 31 miles from the Austrian-Hungarian border had become a hotspot, and that if they drove through the countryside toward the border from Budapest, they would find refugees looking for a ride.

The group drove their two cars through Budapest’s streets and on to the refugee hotspot. As they neared the border, they saw hundreds of refugees, along with a handful of cars opening their doors. When Seidenberg opened the doors of his Volkswagen, a family from Iraq immediately got in. The car was so full that Seidenberg’s friend had to get out and wait while Seidenberg drove the family to the border.

By 1am, after ferrying several groups of refugees back and forth, Seidenberg and his friend reunited at a gas station on the Austrian side of the Hungarian border. They spotted a family carrying a bunch of plastic bags, seemingly left behind. The family, originally from Syria, was hesitant to accept a lift. They had just paid 500 euros to traffickers who left them at the gas station in the middle of the night, and were wary of strangers.

‘They thought we must be traffickers ourselves,’ said Seidenberg. ‘Why would we appear in the middle of the night in the gas station?’ After a tense negotiation, Seidenberg and his friend agreed to drive three men and three children to Frankfurt. Alex and his driving partner took another three adults who were headed to northern Germany. In Seidenberg’s car, the refugees fell asleep within 10 minutes.

‘They were completely exhausted,’ Seidenberg said. They were on their feet for 17 days. They had lived in Turkey in a refugee camp for 10 months.’ From Turkey, they had travelled by boat to Greece and from Greece to Macedonia, Serbia, then Hungary. We drove through the night, scared, because there were so many police at every gas station,’ Seidenberg said.

The ‘escape helpers’ risk serious consequences. In Austria, they could be fined for smuggling people in this fashion. In Hungary, they could face up to four years in jail. In Germany, they were risking up to 10 years of prison time under trafficking laws. ‘Hungary is closing their borders more and more; there are more controls on the Austrian-Hungarian border,’ said Seidenberg.

But the ‘escape helpers’ adapt to these changes, often communicating with encrypted messages. ‘As the refugees’ routes change, so do the routes of the escape helpers. They are not going to stop us,’ Seidenberg said. The situation will only become more dire during the winter, worsening what is already Europe’s most urgent refugee emergency since World War II.

Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Friday that refugee and migrant arrivals in Greece are expected to hit the 400,000 mark soon, despite adverse weather conditions. Greece remains by far the largest single entry point for new sea arrivals in the Mediterranean, followed by Italy with 131,000 arrivals so far in 2015. In September, 168,000 people crossed the Mediterranean, the highest monthly figure ever recorded and almost five times the number in September 2014.|

As of Friday morning, a total of 396,500 people have entered Greece by sea since the beginning of the year, more than 153,000 of them in September alone. The nine-month 2015 total compares to 43,500 such arrivals in Greece in all of 2014. Ninety-seven per cent are from the world’s top 10 refugee-producing countries, led by Syria (70 per cent), Afghanistan (18 per cent) and Iraq (4 per cent). All three are countries that imperialism has attacked and bombed.

UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards said: ‘There was a noticeable drop in sea arrivals this week, along with the change in the weather.’ Edwards said that on Sept 25th, for example, there were some 6,600 arrivals. The next day, it dropped to around 2,200. From an average of around 5,000 arrivals per day recently, it has fallen to some 3,300 over the past six days with just 1,500 yesterday.

‘Nevertheless, any improvement in the weather is likely to bring another surge in sea arrivals.’

The current cooler, windy weather has made the crossing from Turkey to Greece even more perilous.

Last Thursday, there were at least two rescue operations in waters off Lesvos. On Wednesday, there were four separate rescue operations on Lesvos in which 283 people were recovered. But the death of a woman and a young boy brought the total toll of dead and missing in Greek waters to at least 102 this year.

In all, nearly 3,000 people have died or gone missing this year crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Despite daily ferry departures carrying between 3,000 and 6,000 refugees and migrants from the islands to Athens, new arrivals continue and island ports can still be crowded with some 10,000-14,000 people on any given day awaiting transfer. UNHCR said it is concerned that the lack of reception capacity in Greece could seriously jeopardise the relocation programme agreed upon by the European Council, as eligible refugees have nowhere to stay while awaiting relocation.

Greece’s Prime Minister told the United Nations on Thursday that Athens was doing all it could to help the refugee and migrant crisis, and criticised the building of walls to keep them out. In cooperation with the EU and other international organisations, we are doing all we can to manage these flows in an effective and humane way,’ Alexis Tsipras told the General Assembly.

Greece is ‘improving reception facilities and identification procedures’ and setting up hot spots to facilitate relocation, Tsipras said, criticising European countries trying to keep them out. On Thursday, Hungary attached razor wire to a fence erected at its border with Croatia and last month sealed its border with Serbia, cutting off the main entry point for tens of thousands of migrants. ‘We do not believe that the future of Europe or our world can be built on ever higher walls, or children dying at our doorstep,’ said Tsipras.

‘We cannot allow racism and xenophobia to destroy our common principles,’ he added.

Some 500,000 people have come to Europe so far this year, the International Organisation for Migration says, many of them taking perilous journeys across the Mediterranean on inflatable dinghies.

The bodies of at least 95 refugees have been found washed ashore in Libya over the past week according to the country’s Red Crescent charity, in the latest tragedies stemming from the region’s unprecedented refugee crisis: here.

Hungarian, Czech pro-refugee voices


Syrian refugees at the platform of Budapest Keleti railway station (Pic: Mstyslav Chernov)

By Dave Sewell from Britain:

How activists in eastern Europe are resisting attempts to block out refugees

Deadly border fences are going up across eastern Europe as its governments whip up Islamophobia. Dave Sewell spoke to activists there about how the refugee crisis is spreading in the east—and what people are doing to fight back

Tue 22 Sep 2015, 15:00 BST

Twenty five years after the Iron Curtain fell, eastern European states are once again building walls to stop people fleeing westward.

But this time they are blocking African and Middle Eastern refugees fleeing wars and dictatorships. And the European Union (EU) is using regional governments as its frontline border cops.

But refugees have been forcing their way through. Thousands travelled through Croatia last week, after Hungary locked down its border with Serbia.

A new wall [at] the border. It was constructed just in time for new anti-migrant laws coming into force on Monday of last week.

Migrant Solidarity (Migszol) activist Karmen Kollar went to the newly-blocked border at Roszke, southern Hungary on Tuesday morning.

She told Socialist Worker, “Hundreds of people were stuck on the border—within hours it became thousands. People started desperately camping on the empty motorway.”

Refugees chanted, “We want the gate open.” The state responded with terror. Karmen said, “By Wednesday afternoon, people were gathering at one of the old border crossings. Then the anti-terror police turned up.

“Somehow the people had got hold of a loudspeaker and tried to negotiate with the police.

“In the end they started throwing empty bottles, and then two or three stones. I heard one of the cops say “finally”—and without warning they started pepper-spraying everyone.

Refugees in Hungary (Pic: Mstyslav Chernov)

Crowd

“People tried to run, but the crowd was too dense. I saw people crying, throwing up. Some migrants pushed back, setting fire to T-shirts and throwing them at the police. The police answered with tear gas and water cannon.”

Serbian ambulance workers ended up hospitalised themselves after a tear gas grenade hit their ambulance.

The lockdown follows six months of racist scaremongering across the region. Jan Majicek, a revolutionary socialist in the Czech capital Prague, told Socialist Worker, “A refugee boat sinking in 2013 was reported as a tragedy. Now the media talk about a ‘migration crisis’.

“They talk of an ‘uncontrollable wave’ or a ‘threat to our security’. Along with Islamophobia, this created a toxic cocktail that’s helped the far right.

“The Czech, Slovak, Polish and Hungarian governments are all repressing refugees—and using this to raise military and police budgets. The most serious situation is in Hungary.”

Karmen said, “The new law is the culmination of a xenophobic campaign. The government put up billboards in spring telling migrants, ‘If you come to Hungary, don’t steal Hungarian jobs’. But they were written in Hungarian, so the aim was obviously to create hatred.

There’s opposition, but in this political atmosphere it can be hard to get a hearing.

“And the far right party Jobbik organises dangerous anti-migrant rallies—one of them forced refugees to be evacuated from Budapest’s Keleti train station.”

Hungary’s government in particular is also virulently Eurosceptic.

Both Jan and Karmen say the politicians are using the EU as an “alibi”. But Karmen added, “The problem is that there is some truth to it too.”

The EU’s Dublin Regulation says refugees have to apply for asylum in the first country they reach—and can be turned away elsewhere.

Karmen said, “These rules should be completely replaced. They are one reason the situation is so extreme.”

Both Germany and Denmark closed their borders before Croatia did. The authorities in France and Austria have tried to criminalise helping migrants—though resistance has stood its ground.

Meanwhile, Britain’s border at Calais is increasingly fortified. Cops pepper spray refugees there too.

EU politicians have criticised Hungary’s fence, but it was a condition of EU membership.

Pattern

This follows a pattern already seen in Greece. The EU demanded a wall along the river Evros at its Turkey border. Hundreds of Syrian refugees held a sit-in protest there last week.

They rightly argued that this land blockade forces people onto the dangerous sea crossing. It has also given an alibi to any Greek politician who tries to use racism to shore up support.

Now EU border policies are poisoning the politics of newer eastern Europe members states in the same way. …

Jan said, “We should demand our governments open the ­borders and stop their war games. But that’s only one part of our task. The other is to fight for better jobs, wages and welfare—to undercut the Nazis and racists’ claims that refugees are the problem.”

Much of the debate about how to stop the violence at the EU’s border has revolved around the need to “share the burden”.

But this reinforces the idea that refugees are a problem—and the repressive system that tries to control them.

It’s a contradiction Karmen struggles with. “It’s a big question and I don’t know what to do about borders,” she said.

“There needs to be some control. But the more I hear from the migrants, the more I think the EU shouldn’t get to decide where they stay.

“People might enter in one country, but have family in another.

“Why should we tell someone they have to stay in Hungary if they want to go to Sweden, for example? I believe they should have this freedom of movement.”

Abandoned in Belgrade

Hungary’s new law states that Serbia is a “safe country”. That allows the government to deport anyone coming through there—or jail them for several years if they enter Hungary.

Just a few dozen metres from Roszke’s closed motorway checkpoint is one of the two remaining legal crossings. Karmen described a small, unmarked prefab building where a small group of people are allowed inside every 15 minutes.

“A Syrian man told me they’d let him in, kept him in a room for 30 minutes, then handed him some forms he couldn’t read.

“A translator told him to sign them. The forms said he had been returned to Serbia and wouldn’t be coming to Hungary.”

But Serbia is not a place where many refugees expect to find a future. British campaigner Tom Ullman went to the camp in its capital Belgrade.

Many stay at the camp because Serbia’s new laws mean refugees are kicked out of hotels after three nights. Tom said, “Over the past week refugees have had to face abrupt downpours.

“Heavy rains are followed by a flurry of activity as those without storm-worthy tents head for what shelter they can find.”

Tom said, “Sombre stories are told, and affect the mood of the camp. A ship sank the previous week, its passengers only rescued because one of them happened to have a flare.

“But for all the suffering there’s a peculiar festival spirit where strangers become friends.

“The most joyous moment came when a local organisation brought supplies to make tea and music. Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans danced to familiar songs.

“We should be thankful to welcome such people into our countries.”

Racism helps our rulers

Our rulers’ biggest lie about border controls is that they protect the working class.

Even a piece in the supposedly liberal Guardian newspaper argued that letting in refugees would “hit the UK’s working class areas hardest”.

And some trade unionists argue that immigration harms workers’ wages and conditions.

But pressure on services comes from politicians slashing funding. Bosses push down wages and conditions.

There is plenty of wealth in our society. Workers produce it—and when we stand together we have the power to reclaim it.

The racism and repression we are seeing at borders from Roszke to Calais only help our rulers divide us.

The Communist Manifesto famously ends with a call for international solidarity. “Workers of all countries unite—you have a world to win, and nothing to lose but your chains.”

David Cameron understands this. That’s why he wants to extend the border controls we are seeing in Hungary throughout the EU.

Our side must understand that we can only win if we smash them.

Hungarian army anti-refugee violence threatens


This video says about itself:

Hungary: ‘Shame on you Orban!’ Pro-refugee protesters rally in Budapest

13 September 2015

Supporters of the ‘Egyutt’ (‘Together’) party and other opposition groups held a pro-refugee protest in Budapest, Sunday, under the name ‘Shame on you Orban!’

By Markus Salzmann:

Hungary deploys army against refugees

26 September 2015

The parliament of Hungary passed a constitutional amendment Monday permitting the deployment of the country’s army at the country’s borders to repel refugees. With 151 votes in favor, including the votes of the ruling Fidesz party and the far-right Jobbik party, the bill received the two-thirds majority required for changes to the constitution.

The new law will allow the armed forces to stop people at the border and search vehicles. The army will also be allowed to use batons, rubber bullets and nets. The initial draft also allowed police to search homes without a court order if they suspected the presence of refugees. This provision was then deleted from the final text following a wave of protest.

Hungarian soldiers have already been mobilized on the country’s border with Serbia to erect a high barbed wire fence. They are also permitted to reinforce police units at the border.

On Monday, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán defended closing the border in parliament: “Many say that fences are not a good solution, because everyone would have to build a fence. But that is precisely the solution,” he declared.

He denounced the impoverished and desperate refugees as a threat to the EU: “They are overwhelming us. They are not just banging against the door; they are kicking it down.” Hungary and the EU had to counter this “brutal threat.”

The Orbán government has already built a 175-kilometer-long fence on Hungary’s border with Serbia and is currently building similar fences on its borders with Romania and Croatia. On September 15, a law also came into force that made the illegal entry into Hungary a serious crime, punishable by three years in prison or deportation.

The mobilization of the military at the border, while targeting refugees, aims at annulling fundamental democratic rights for the entire population.

Civil rights activists have criticized the new laws. In an open letter, a group of lawyers complained that child refugees do not receive the protection entitled to underage persons by law. They pointed out that accused refugees cannot read the accusations and judgment made against them in their mother tongue, although this is required by law. Moreover, persons restrained in a camp under “house arrest” are not allowed to make phone calls or have personal conversation with a defense lawyer.

Apart from some superficial criticism there is general approval for the brutal refugee policy among Hungary’s main political parties. The social democratic MSZP did not vote against the constitutional amendment, but merely abstained in the vote.

And despite their occasional criticism of Orbán, other European countries support Hungary’s crackdown on refugees.

On Wednesday, the German Christian Social Union, the Bavarian party that shares power with Angela Merkel’s CDU and the social democrats, welcomed Orbán as guest of honor at a party meeting in Banz. CSU leader Horst Seehofer assured “dear Viktor” of a “high level of agreement” and emphasized that “Orbán is indispensable for the correct solution of the problem.”

The Latvian government has also demanded that the EU provide additional funds to build border fences. The country plans to close its border with Russia and Belarus and install monitoring systems along the newly-reinforced border.

Bulgaria plans to deploy around a thousand soldiers at its border with Turkey. According to Bulgarian news sources, about 660 refugees tried to cross from Turkey to Bulgaria a week ago. They were discovered by Bulgarian border guards and intercepted by the Turkish border police.

The government in Sofia has already sent thousands of additional police officers to its 260-kilometer-long border with Turkey, and built a 30-kilometer-long barbed wire fence, which is to be extended along the entire length of the border. A representative of the Ministry of Defence said a plan for joint patrols of army and police was already in force.

Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said that the relocation of troops to the border was aimed at “spreading respect and contributing to the security of the local population.” It was impermissible for “tens of thousands to cross our border” without the government taking “elementary precautionary measures.”

Human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Pro Asyl criticized Bulgaria’s crackdown on refugees. Pro Asyl had already reported last Spring on numerous cases where refugees were violently forced back across the Turkish border. Such “pushbacks” violate international agreements such as the Geneva Convention on Refugees. In addition, Pro Asyl criticized the conditions in Bulgarian refugee camps as inadequate.

In Bulgaria, just 7,400 asylum seekers have been registered this year. Refugees have largely avoided Bulgaria as a transit country because of the terrible conditions and long delays in the country’s refugee camps.

Slovenia has also sealed off its border using the harshest of measures. Last week Slovenian police used tear gas against hundreds of refugees, including children, on its border with Croatia.

There have also been growing conflicts between Serbia and Croatia after Croatia closed its border. The result was kilometer-long traffic jams on Serbian highways. Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić called the move a “brutal attack on Serbia and the Serbian economy” and issued Croatia an ultimatum to open its borders.

Additional conflicts have erupted between Hungary on the one side and Serbia and Croatia on the other, following the closure of border crossings and restrictions on the transit of refugees. The Serbian government went so far as to threaten Hungary with its army should Hungary continue to push back refugees to Serbia.