Wednesday

23rd Oct 2019

Magazine

'Dictator' vindicated

"Immigration is a bad thing. We shouldn't view it as if it had any use because it only brings problems and peril to Europeans and so it must be stopped."

When Viktor Orban, Hungary's maverick prime minister, took the opportunity to demonise migrants in the wake of the attacks on Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine and a Jewish supermarket in Paris, few thought he had set the stage for the discourse on a refugee crisis just emerging in Europe.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • At the end of 2015, Orban seems more indomitable than ever. (Photo: EPP)

In January, those comments raised eyebrows. By the end of the year, politicians from all over Europe echoed Orban's sentiments.

His early call for tougher external border control, his strategy to build fences to channel the arrival of migrants, and thus passing on the crisis to neighboring countries, were either criticised or ignored at first.

But as the numbers grew and voters in Europe increasingly became anxious, border control became a priority and fences were mulled and subsequently built on the migration route.

Stopping Jobbik

Despite Orban's combatant rhetoric to protect the EU's external Schengen borders and the bloc's asylum rules by registering migrants, Hungary did transport tens of thousands of people to Austria before all of its fences were erected.

And Orban's tough rhetoric and measures on refugees also served to prevent the far-right Jobbik, Hungary's second largest party, from luring his voters away.

Yet 2015 marked an unlikely vindication for Orban, whose autocratic governing style drew criticism for years, but is now hailed for his foresight.

Challenging political correctness and the liberal political consensus in Europe, Orban's controversial right-wing politics are pulling Europe's mainstream conservatives along with him.

Years of EU criticism of Orban abusing his majority to bend rules his way, has boiled down to a quip by EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, who welcomed Orban at a summit with a salute: "Hello, dictator!"

At the end of 2015, Orban seems more indomitable than ever.

This story was originally published in EUobserver's 2015 Europe in Review Magazine.

Click here to read previous editions of Europe in Review magazines.

Magazine

Europe in Review 2014

EUobserver, in its second annual review, looks back at the main events of 2014: Russia's annexation of Ukraine; the selection of the EU's new top cadre; separatism in Europe and more. Order your copy here.

Magazine

Macron: Hegelian hero of EU history?

The election of the 39-year old newcomer injected new hope and dynamism. But the French president still has to find solid allies in the EU and deliver his ambitious agenda at home.

Magazine

In 2018, make Europe great again!

Is the EU back on track to make Europe great again? The fifth edition of EUobserver's Europe in Review magazine looks at the biggest events that shaped the EU in 2017 and prospects for 2018.

News in Brief

  1. MEPs criticise Juncker over climate and tax policies
  2. Juncker defends commission record on Greek crisis
  3. Croatian MEP criticises EU parliament for trusting Šuica
  4. Brexit is waste of time and energy, says Juncker
  5. Abortion and same-sex marriage become legal in Northern Ireland
  6. Germany wants internationally controlled zone in Syria
  7. EU parliament refuses to debate Catalonia
  8. Four businessmen charged in Slovak journalist murder

Magazine

In 2018, make Europe great again!

Is the EU back on track to make Europe great again? The fifth edition of EUobserver's Europe in Review magazine looks at the biggest events that shaped the EU in 2017 and prospects for 2018.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  3. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  4. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  5. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  7. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  11. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work

Latest News

  1. EU commission backs Croatia's Schengen bid
  2. EU open to imminent Brexit extension, Tusk indicates
  3. EU centrists ally with far right on migrant rescues
  4. MPs vote on Johnson's latest push for Brexit deal
  5. Macron breaks Balkans promise in quest for EU dominance
  6. Snap elections in North Macedonia after EU rejection
  7. UK opposition MPs attack new Brexit deal
  8. Deep divisions on display over post-Brexit EU budget

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us