Destinations Magazine

Orban the Archetype

By Stizzard
Orban the archetype

HE ORDERED a fence topped with razor-wire along the 175-kilometre border with Serbia. He cast Christian Europe as battling Muslim hordes for survival, stirring memories of ancient battles against Ottoman invaders and shattering political taboos. Viktor Orban, Hungary’s prime minister, is a pugnacious opponent of immigration. His stance is shared not only by many of his people but also by plenty in other eastern European countries. Whereas 96% of Germans approve in principle of taking in refugees (and 59% support taking in more now), 71% of Czechs are against taking any. How to explain this discrepancy?

Throughout history Hungarians and their neighbours have benefited mightily from migration and the charity of others. The second world war, the Russian invasions of Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968, Poland’s tortured 20th century—all have produced waves of refugees. Hungary has a tradition of welcoming strangers. Indeed, the Magyars themselves are comparatively recent arrivals in Europe, having come from the Urals just over a millennium ago. St Stephen, Hungary’s first Christian king, advised his son, St Emeric, in 1036 to “make the…

The Economist: Europe


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