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Orbán claims anti-migrant billboards “discourage human trafficking”

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán thinks the government’s billboard campaign emphasizes Hungary being an open and friendly country, but he also thinks migrants have no business trying to settle in Hungary. He may be right in believing that the government’s xenophobic campaign has succeeded in convincing 6 percent of eligible voters to be worried about migrants arriving in Hungary.  But there can be no doubt that Hungarian society (and the European Union) is deeply troubled by the government’s “information” campaign, the main purpose of which appears to be to foment dislike of foreigners for the sake of shoring up Fidesz’s waning popularity at home.

Orbán says purpose of campaign is to discourage human trafficking

“[The billboards] address everyone, but primarily the human traffickers. Word gets around and it becomes known to everyone that in Hungary the government has a very straightforward position on this matter. In our own softer way we are saying what the Australians are saying. You have no chance of staying here. You won’t be able to making a living here. There are not enough jobs in this country. You won’t get any of these jobs. As much as we’d like you to live happy, this isn’t the place where that’ll happen. Furthermore, if you arrived in our country as an illegal immigrant then you can’t be forgiven because you started your stay here by tricking our society,” said Orbán this morning during his weekly radio address when discussing the government’s xenophobic billboard campaign.

“The wording of the billboards could be called mild because it puts the emphasis on Hungary being an open and friendly country,” Orbán said.

This remains to be seen. Political activists, civil activists, and international human rights organizations have launched informational campaigns against the Hungarian government’s national consultation and demonizing of migrants.

Just this week the United Nations Refugee agency fired back at the government’s billboard campaign by launching its own which seeks to humanize the plight of refugees arriving in Europe from war-torn countries in the Middle East and Africa.

In his radio address the Prime Minister said the government’s billboard campaign has accomplished much in the way of raising awareness about the national consultation on “migrants and terrorism”. He says more than 500,000 (of 8,000,000) national consultation questionnaires have been sent back to the government thus far and that the overwhelming majority of responses indicate Hungarians want the government to do something about the dangers posed by migrants.

“Imagine what the situation would be today if the 2014 national elections would have produced different results. Let’s play with that not too funny thought of what the situation would be if there would be a left-wing government in Hungary. There would be many hundreds of thousands of migrants in Hungary right now! And if we stepped out onto the street three years from now, we wouldn’t know whether we’re in London, Paris or Budapest!” Orbán said.

He says the Hungarian government is exploring its options to thwart illegal border crossing along the southern border. The government is awaiting a report due next Wednesday by the interior ministry on how to best secure it. The prime minister says he will render his decision on how to move forward with the border lock-down after he receives the report. He says the government is considering all options to secure this border with Serbia.

Benjamin Novak :