The BBC’s correspondent in Budapest, Nick Thorpe has written a book about the refugee crisis under the title “The road is crying in front of me”, he held a press conference at the 25th Budapest International Bookfestival. Hungarian daily Nepszava reported about the book presentation of the correspondent, who is often critical towards the Orban government.
Nick Thorpe was studying the consequences of the Arab Spring and the Syrian crisis and its effects on Europe and Hungary for three years. According to the correspondent, the “fundemental problem” in Hungary is that the refugee question has become political, the Orban government prevented a normal, decent public dialogue about migration.
“Orban is right when he says that noone has the right to tell us whom we should share our homeland with, but if someone knocks on our door, the polite thing is to open it and ask who the person is and what he or she wants,”
the British correspondent said at the bookfestival.
Thorpe also mentioned that he met “genuine fear” from the side of the Hungarians affected by the propaganda and those too, who were escaping war or looking for a better life. According to him, 2015 was a real crisis, but it’s over:
“there is no refugee crisis today (…) to say that there is, that’s a political game”.
Thorpe highlighted: those affected by the Middle Eastern crisis are mostly escaping real dangers, they are not as lucky as Hungarians, in whose country there’s peace, food and water.
He added that he talked to hundreds of refugees during the last three years to understand them. According to him, people think that refugees, people coming from other places worth less than the locals, people look down on strangers, but it’s the same for a Hungarian working in England or Austria as for an African or Middle Eastern refugee.
The BBC’s correspondent said it was scarier to meet Maria Schmidt, a prominent historian of the Orban government, than refugees:
“Maybe the scariest thing was when Maria Schmidt was shouting at me for half an hour,”
said Thorpe, who met the historian in connection with the refugee question.
But according to the BBC’s correspondent this doesn’t mean that Hungarians are more likely to be xenophobes than the English, or that they don’t have big hearts. He thinks they are very open, just afraid of the unknown. He also said he thinks Hungarians are welcoming people, but these three years have been difficult for him because he loves this country but the atmosphere is bad now.