“This is the kind of doublespeak Hungary is seeking to combat,” I said in response to a reporter’s recent inquiry about a video produced with the support of the European Commission. “[W]hile everyone should be complying with EU regulations, propaganda materials supporting migration are being made from EU money.”
If you haven’t seen it yet, you must. A group called Européens Sans Frontières (Europeans Without Borders) produced a video entitled, “Eurodame, Help!” to “raise public awareness of the issue of migration in Europe.”
Featuring a fairy godmother-like character called Eurodame, who whisks away the troubled migrants on – I kid you not – a magic carpet, the short clip propagates a pro-migration line in which eastern Europeans are depicted as an angry, xenophobic mob who reject the migrants in sad contrast to civilized western Europeans who are an altruistic, welcoming people that has “great need” of refugees. “Europe,” you see, “protects its frontiers and welcomes war refugees.”
“And you?” it asks provocatively, before the closing credits roll.
In those closing credits, we learn that this little gem, with its swipe at those racist eastern Europeans, was produced with the support of the European Commission, along with France’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and something called the Fondation Hippocrène, a foundation devoted to “dialogue and sharing to build a sense of common European citizenship.”
Beyond the usual condescension toward the eastern members of the European Union, there’s so much to unpack in this loaded piece of misinformation. I’ll highlight just two:
At the border, the video shows Frontex, the EU’s border protection agency. That would be great, except it’s simply not accurate. The Orbán Government has long advocated a more robust Frontex – with adequate people and resources – to step up border protection in those EU countries struggling to control Europe’s external border. Today, unfortunately, Frontex doesn’t have the wherewithal to carry out that mission. Europe, contrary to the video’s closing line, is not protecting its frontiers.
Furthermore, under the Schengen Agreement, if a country lies on an external border of the Schengen Area, it is that country’s responsibility to protect and control that border. The Orbán Government has taken that responsibility seriously and, thanks to the border fence, now has the situation on the EU’s southeastern border under control. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for all EU countries on Schengen’s external border.
Secondly, the Frontex border guard rejects a lone, male migrant coming in search of work and chases away what appears to be a smuggler but then admits the family of asylum seekers fleeing a war-torn country. Bravo! So correct!
Yet in real life, it’s not so easy. How do you distinguish the bona fide refugees from the economic migrants, especially when they’ve travelled (in violation of asylum rules) across several safe countries to reach a country like Hungary. Last year, Germany deported a record number of migrants denied asylum and that figure, according to officials, will rise again in 2017.
While Eurodame and the European Commission push a pro-migration line paid for with EU money, Hungary complies with EU regulations under Schengen and will continue to fight illegal immigration.