On March 16, the EU Center sponsored a Symposium on “The Refugee Crisis and the New Right on the European Periphery.” The event was organized by Zsuzsa Gille (Sociology) and George Gasyna (Slavic Languages and Literatures) from the University of Illinois. Various academics presented their research in different areas regarding the Symposium topic.
The keynote address was given by Jószef Böröcz, Professor of Sociology at the Rutgers University in New Jersey. Böröcz lecture was about the “Materialist Background to the ‘Migration Crisis in Europe’.” He critically presented Hungary’s answers and actions towards the refugee crisis.
Hungary’s government under Prime Minister Victor Orban initiated a strong anti-immigrant and anti-immigration billboard campaign to prevent refugees from coming to Hungary. Addressing them in a rather informal and impolite way, the billboards said, for instance, “If you come to Hungary, you must respect our laws and culture.” Furthermore, Hungary’s government made it legally impossible to claim asylum in Hungary, and built up fences in its southern border. Also on the policy suggestions at the EU level, Hungary presented an extreme anti-immigrant posture.
After these actions, the Hungarian government came under criticism for, among other things, failing to stand up to legal principles, such as international laws, the Geneva convention, the acquis communautaire, or even the Hungarian constitution. Hungary’s actions were also marked as politically unacceptable and morally questionable.
In the end, Böröcz touched upon the differences between Eastern and Western Europe. In this regard he mentioned the concept of dependence, meaning by that a network which is more important for one actor than for the other. He also talked about the feeling of “ressentiment” of those who serve and are dominated.
Böröcz did not only outline Hungary’s answers to the refugee crisis but also tried to find reasons for these actions. The differences between Eastern and Western Europe are visible in many terms and it shows in the current migrant crisis.
Raphaela Berding is a MAEUS student and graduate assistant at the European Union Center.