Being Beastly to the Hun(garians) and other East Europeans Too

by Andrew Stuttaford

Not only has Germany’s stumblebum chancellor made Europe’s migration/refugee crisis even worse than it was always going to be, she (along with the EU’s prominenti and many in the media) have taken the opportunity to disparage and insult a number of the EU’s eastern member-states.

 During the course of a wider ranging (and well worth reading in full) piece on the EU’s woes, the Daily Telegraph’s Ambrose Evans-Pritchard writes:

 [EU Commission president] Mr Juncker wishes to invoke treaty powers to force countries to accept 160,000 refugees by a quota, whether or not they agree with his solutions, or indeed whether or not they think it is highly dangerous given the state of total war that now exists between Western liberal civilisation and Jihadi fundamentalism….

 By invoking EU law to impose quotas under pain of sanctions, Brussels has unwisely brought home the reality that states have given up sovereignty over their borders, police and judicial systems, just as they gave up economic sovereignty by joining the euro. This comes as a rude shock, creating a new East-West rift within European affairs to match the North-South battles over EMU. With certain nuances, the peoples of Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland and the Baltic states do not accept the legitimacy of the demands being made upon them.

 That countries that have only recently emerged from the Soviet empire are a little touchy on the question of the integrity of their own borders has, apparently, come as a shock to the EU’s governing elite, a caste for whom national sovereignty is nothing more than a barbarous relic.

 Over at Spiked Online, Frank Furedi weighs in:

 According to sections of the Western European press, the people who inhabit the Eastern part of this continent have failed to adopt the civilised and enlightened values of the EU. Commenting on this ‘East-West split’ in relation to migration, an editorial in the Guardian condemned Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia for supporting Hungary’s rejection of the EU plan for national migrant quotas. As far as this editorial is concerned, Eastern Europeans, particularly Hungarians, inhabit a different moral universe to that of the EU; it contrasts the ‘generous-spirited, pan-European approach’ of the EU to the ‘awful’, mean-spirited policies of Hungary.

…At least the Guardian made a distinction between the government of Hungary and the people of Hungary. Thankfully, it doesn’t cast every Hungarian in the role of xenophobic monster. That’s more than can be said of Robert Fisk, the Middle East correspondent for the Independent. In his historically illiterate anti-Hungarian diatribe, he draws an analogy between the behaviour of Hungarians towards refugees today and the horrific experience of the victims of the Holocaust. He mobilises references to how Hungarian police forced ‘tens of thousands of Jews on to trains out of Budapest, desperate to get them to Auschwitz on time’ to imply that 21st-century Hungarians are engaged in an act of virtual genocide.

 However one interprets events in Budapest over the past week, it is a malign distortion to draw a moral equivalence with what happened during the Holocaust. As someone of Hungarian-Jewish heritage who lost most of his family in the Holocaust, I find Fisk’s casual references to the dark days of 1944 a cheap manipulation of historical memory. The only connection between recent events in Budapest and what happened in 1944 is that trains were involved in both cases. Sealed wagons steaming towards concentration camps should not be confused with trains sitting stationary in a Budapest railway station. Even Fisk should get that….

 He also shows a remarkable level of ignorance about Hungarian history and culture. He finds it difficult to comprehend why Hungarian patriots look back on their nation’s occupation by the Ottoman Empire with ‘extreme distaste’. Yet one need not be a patriot to recall the historic significance of the Ottoman occupation of Hungary. The loss of national independence to a foreign empire is imprinted in Hungary’s historical psyche. The wars fought in the sixteenth century to regain Hungarian self-rule serve as a reminder that national independence cannot be taken for granted. Subsequent occupations of Hungary by a variety of empires have reinforced the nation’s sensitivity to the dictates of foreign powers.

 Again, read the whole thing.

 Meanwhile those marvelously moral Western Europeans have, it seems, been up to their old tricks again, cutting a deal with Putin to get hold more of those nasty fossil fuels they so claim to dislike, and cutting out Eastern Europeans as they do so.

 Bloomberg reports:

 Eastern European nations set to lose billions of dollars in natural gas transit fees are lambasting western Europe for striking another pipeline deal with Russia that will circumvent Ukraine. The prime ministers of Slovakia and Ukraine criticized an agreement between western European companies from Germany’s EON AG to Paris-based Engie with Russian pipeline gas export monopoly Gazprom PJSC to expand a Baltic Sea link. Western European leaders and companies are “betraying” their eastern neighbors, Slovakia’s Robert Fico said after meeting Ukraine’s Arseniy Yatsenyuk in the Slovak capital of Bratislava on Thursday.

 Gazprom and EON, Engie, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, OMV AG and BASF SE signed an agreement last week to expand Nord Stream by 55 billion cubic meters a year, which would double its capacity to almost 30 percent of current EU demand. Ukraine, already struggling to avoid a default amid a conflict with Moscow-backed separatists in its east, is set to lose $2 billion a year in transit fees while Slovakia would lose hundreds of millions of euros, the leaders said….

 The project completely neglects Polish interests and hurts the EU’s unity in the face of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “aggression” in Ukraine, Polish President Andrzej Duda said on Wednesday.

 So much for “solidarity”.

 Eastern Europeans should not be bullied into bailing out Merkel. As she herself is always so willing to point out, irresponsibility has consequences.

Update

Reuters:

BERLIN/NICKELSDORF, Austria (Reuters) – Austria’s chancellor criticised Hungary for its handling of the refugee crisis on Saturday, likening the country’s policies to Nazi deportations during the Holocaust as refugees complained of their treatment in the eastern European country.

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