Hungary and migration

 

Sir, – Further to “Hungary vote keeps spotlight on migration” (Suzanne Lynch, Europe Letter, September 22nd), on the Hungarian plebiscite about migration, let me make it clear that Hungary has taken nothing like a hard-line stance on the refugee crisis. However, the Hungarians are truly determined about cracking down on illegal migration, human trafficking and smuggling.

Hungary welcomes everyone who arrives at its borders with documents and who is entitled to refuge status. Unfortunately they are a small minority.

On the other hand, over half a million people marched through Hungary last year, violating the Schengen borders and without undergoing the legal process of the Dublin Protocol.

Let me point out that claiming “the quota plan is technically EU law” is simply not true. Two European Council conclusions have been adopted earlier this year on the relocation of 40,000 migrants, plus 120,000 migrants jammed in Italy and Greece, but the European Commission’s quota plan itself has not yet been implemented and has been laid aside due to concerns not only from Hungary but a number of other EU member states.

I do not contest the right of your correspondent to use whatever adjectives she chooses. However, to use the word “cynical” to describe the “move of Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán to keep focus off other issues” is to lack an understanding of Hungarian politics.

What’s more, when it comes to concrete issues, only one, healthcare, is mentioned. Your readers should be informed that the Hungarian healthcare system is one of the best in Europe. Hungary has a full social security system, with a comprehensive medical service for everyone, at a relatively low cost in terns of health insurance, and with high-quality medicines. Patients pay no extras for visits to a GP, there are no queues and no trolleys in the corridors of hospitals. Thousands of students from all over the world study at the famous Hungarian medical universities each year.

Finally, I am also saddened by the running characterisation of my country and other central and eastern European countries as “former communist”.

When will the West realise that nearly 30 years have elapsed since the first wide cracks in the Soviet bloc appeared. Hungarians and other people in the region were not voluntarily communists; they were forced and repressed under an alien dictatorship. Hungary now is a western parliamentary democracy, where the rule of law and freedom of speech prevail. People can cast a vote on pivotal issues, like obligatory resettlement of non-Hungarian citizens by the EU into their country. – Yours, etc,

ISTVÁN S PÁLFFY,

Ambassador of Hungary

to Ireland,

Fitzwilliam Place, Dublin 2.