Mar 14, 2017 - Zoltán Kovács

Dear New York Times Editors: You just don’t get it, do you?

“Clearly, Mr. Orban is playing the European Union for a patsy,” the New York Times editors write in a piece published yesterday. “At what point will the union have the courage to take action against his policies?”

Do they mean, at what point will the union have the courage to take action against the government of Hungary for protecting the external border of Europe’s Schengen Area?

That’s the real question. And the answer is: they won’t because they see that it’s in the EU’s interest to protect the union’s external border. We’ll hear the usual howls from the liberal critics, but when reason prevails, Europeans understand that protecting the border must be a priority. And, by the way, it’s our obligation under the Schengen treaty.

If you don’t have a border, as they say, you don’t have a country. The southern border of Hungary is essentially Europe’s border because it’s an external border of the Schengen Area. Once inside the Schengen Area, people can move freely across much of the European Union without any border stations or passport controls. Much like in the United States, once you’re in, you’re in. That freedom of movement of people and goods is one of the most precious liberties that European citizens enjoy.

The migrants attempting to break through that border illegally are well aware of that. That’s why they don’t stop in the first safe country they reach. They don’t stop to request asylum in Turkey, Bulgaria, Greece, or Serbia because they’re not “inside” Europe (Greece is technically part of Schengen but has no land borders with the rest of Schengen Europe).

The Times editors in their ivory tower in New York assert that the prime minister is playing Europe for a patsy. Unfortunately, migrants – certainly not all, but many – have been gaming the system in Europe. Hundreds of thousands have crossed Europe’s Schengen border illegally. Sometimes they go through the motions of requesting asylum and are instructed to remain in a camp until their cases are decided. Many of them, though, don’t bother to wait and, abusing asylum rules and the open borders of the Schengen area, disappear somewhere into the European Union. That’s illegal and that’s why we’ve changed the law to be able to say that migrants can’t move about freely in the same way as citizens.

Austria and Germany, I can assure you, are not interested in seeing a repeat of the events of autumn 2015, when hundreds of thousands of undocumented, illegal immigrants flooded their countries, trampling on Europe’s Schengen and refugee rules.

After Schengen, the second word you’ll never hear from the New York Times and their ilk is terrorism. Yes, it’s politically incorrect, but it’s today’s reality.

We know for a fact that the organizers and perpetrators of the terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015 and Berlin 2016 took advantage of Europe’s unprotected borders and lax asylum procedures. ISIS stated clearly that it has been doing so. Not to mention reports of other crimes associated with the illegal immigrants.

The minute you mention terrorism or public security, however, you’re denounced as a bigot, condemning a whole group of people for the crimes of a few. That’s unfortunate, but faced with the stark reality that terrorist groups are exploiting Europe’s borders and mindful of those heinous attacks, the government of Hungary will not apologize for making security a priority.

It’s easy to be charmed by the human rights nonsense when you’re penning editorials from an office in Midtown Manhattan. But we’re running a government responsible for the safety and security of our citizens – as well as the citizens of Europe – on the front lines of this crisis, and we see this struggle differently.