Orbán Finds Himself Unpopular at U.N.

By Timothy Meyers

For thousands of refugees desperately fleeing conflict, violence, and lack of economic opportunities, Hungary has been a crucial and harrowing stopping point. Located at the “frontlines” of the European Union, Hungary has struggled over the past two months in appropriately responding to the global refugee crisis. Instead of showing compassion, Hungary has erected fences along its borders with Serbia, Romania, and Croatia, created an ad campaign warning immigrants to adopt Hungarian values, and declared a state of emergency that could have deep consequences for both Hungarian citizens and the increasing number of refugees.

These methods have been met with scorn from the international community and have upset relations with some of Hungary’s closest neighbors. But Hungary isn’t backing down.

In conjunction with the United Nations General Assembly, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his foreign minister, Péter Szijjártó, traveled to New York in an attempt to rebuke claims that Hungary’s policies were inhumane.

At the U.N. Orbán tried, and failed, to gain support for an international quota system approved by the U.N, not the E.U.—an attempt to deny the reality of the crisis in Europe and Hungary, and instead shift responsibility.  Orbán stated, “The U.S. and other countries, and even the rich Arab countries should take some [refugees] because Europe cannot handle [them].  The crisis could destabilize Europe easily.  It’s not difficult to imagine that one or two years from now the old political elite will be replaced by the radicals.”

Rather than embrace these views, the international community has rejected Orbán’s extreme stance. In fact, the only European nation to support Orbán’s international quota proposal at the General Assembly was the island of Malta.

Beyond that, the silence of European and United States diplomats toward any communication with Orbán in New York speaks volumes, and is a sign that Hungary’s bellicose diplomacy is finally getting well-deserved diplomatic scorn.  During a swing through Washington, D.C. before heading to the U.N., Orbán was not received by any U.S. officials.

The United States’ silence, along with the distancing of many key nations at the UN summit, clearly shows that Hungary’s aggressive rhetoric and policies are losing support.  In order to continue displaying its opposition to Orbán’s nativist, anti-European policies, the United States should continue to ostracize members of the Hungarian government unwilling to improve the living and safety standards of refugees entering Hungary.  Orbán must realize the damage his policies have had for diplomatic relations, and this noticeable snub is a strong way to show that the U.S. and other important Hungarian allies will not go along with such callous and extreme policies.

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Published on October 9, 2015

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