Campaign Caravan

The government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán conducted intensive propaganda in preparation for the FideszChristian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) campaign for the May 23–26 European Parliament (EP) election. The slogan of the propaganda campaign was “For us, Hungary is first!” (Nekünk Magyarország az első!).

The objective of these propaganda actions was to mobilize support for Fidesz-KDNP in the EP election by portraying the party alliance as the only political force in Hungary that would prevent the European Union from carrying through with its purported plan to resettle migrants in EU member states with help from Hungarian-American investor and philanthropist György/George Soros and his NGOs.

The Orbán-government propaganda focused on the threat that Muslim migration to Hungary would allegedly pose to the country’s internal security and Christian culture.

This propaganda consisted of eight distinctive actions that took place during a three-month period from early January to early April. Below are descriptions of each of these eight stages in the Orbán government’s preparation for the 2019 EP election.

Stage 1: Request for Campaign Donations

click to enlarge

On January 3, Prime Minister Orbán sent letters to Fidesz-KDNP supporters throughout Hungary requesting donations to help the party alliance finance its political campaign for the EP election (source in Hungarian).

Fidesz-KDNP has not revealed how money Prime Minister Orbán’s request for donations generated for the party alliance’s 2019 EP election campaign.

Below is an Orange Files translation of Prime Minister Orbán’s 2019 request for donations:

Esteemed Compatriots!

I am writing to You because we are standing before a historically significant European Parliament election. This March, the stakes will be higher than they have ever been before.

Brussels—having learned nothing from the terrible terror attacks of the past years—wants to bring even more immigrants to Europe. For this purpose, the bureaucrats will do anything possible to force their decisions upon the nations. We Hungarians do not accept this. Our goal is to preserve the security of our homeland and to defend our culture.

The opposition has already proven that we cannot count upon them in this struggle, because they represent Brussels in Hungary. However, we need representatives who represent Hungary in Brussels.

In this struggle we can rely only on Fidesz-KDNP representatives. For this reason I ask You—in accordance with your means—to support Fidesz’s European Parliament campaign with financial donations. Help us to spread our message everywhere! For us, Hungary is first!

Budapest, January 2019.

Respectfully,

Viktor Orbán

Stage 2: Government “Information Action”

(photo: Orange Files)

On February 15, Spokesman István Hollik announced that the Orbán government would launch an “information action regarding the plans in Brussels to encourage immigration, because we think that all Hungarian people have the right to know about those proposals that fundamentally threaten Hungary’s security” (sources A and B in Hungarian).

A few days later, signs showing unflattering images of György/George Soros and European Commission  President Jean-Claude Juncker alongside the text “You Also Have the Right to Know What Brussels Is Preparing to Do!” (Önnek is joga van tudni, mire készül Brüsszel!) appeared in large number on the streets of Budapest.

In late February, voters in Hungary received a letter from Prime Minister Orbán providing more detail about “what Brussels is preparing to do.” Below is an Orange Files translation of this letter.

Esteemed Compatriots!

I am writing in order to inform You about the alarming developments in the immigration crisis.

Brussels has learned nothing from the dreadful terrorist attacks of the past years. It wants to bring even more immigrants to Europe. The bureaucrats are now preparing to stimulate immigration with new measures. Following the introduction of the migrant visa and the migrant bank card, they would give more money to György Soros’s immigration-supporting organizations. They continue to want to distribute immigrants in Europe through obligatory quotas.

We Hungarians decided that we do not want our homeland to became a country of immigration.

We want to protect our security and our Christian culture. This is why we built a fence and this is why we are defending our borders. However, the Brussels bureaucrats do not want to respect our decision. They want to break the resistance of the countries opposing immigration in the interest of reaching their objectives.

You also have the right to know what Brussels is preparing to do. This is why I am turning to you now: please read the enclosed information regarding Brussels’s planned steps.

Respectfully,

Viktor Orbán

Prime minister of Hungary

According the “enclosed information” attached to Prime Minister Orbán’s letter, the European Union—cited in the third-person plural—is preparing to take the following steps:

1. They want to introduce the mandatory resettlement quota.

2. They want to weaken the border-protection rights of member states.

3. They would facilitate immigration with a migrant visa.

4. They want to give even more money to organizations supporting migration.

5. They would also assist migration with a bank card with accessible funds.

6. They would launch experimental immigration projects with countries in Africa.

7. They want to reduce financial support for countries that oppose immigration.

click to enlarge

See The Umpteenth Campaign.

Stage 3: Media Campaign Surrounding Alleged ISIS Executioner F. Hassan

On March 22, the Budapest Investigative Prosecutor’s Office (Fővárosi Nyomozó Ügyészség) announced that in cooperation with the Counter Terrorism Center (TEK) it had taken 27-year-old Syrian national F. Hassan into custody on suspicion that as a member of ISIS he had participated in the beheading of 20 people in the city of Homs in 2016 (source in Hungarian).

Hungarian authorities had arrested F. Hassan, who had received asylum in Greece in 2017, in December 2018 as he and a companion tried to board a Paris-bound flight at Liszt Ferenc Airport near Budapest using forged identification documents. As immigration officials prepared to deport F. Hassan to Greece, Belgian and Hungarian members of the EU justice-coordination organization Eurojust reportedly uncovered evidence of his participation in the ISIS executions in Homs (source in Hungarian).

On March 28, the Greek National Intelligence Service (EYP) issued a communiqué stating that the organization had received no information indicating that F. Hassan, identified according to his full name Farhoud Hassan, had been associated with ISIS, suggesting that his arrest in Hungary on suspicion of having committed acts of terrorism was intended to serve “petty political needs”  (source in English).

Hungarian public media and pro-government private media focused on the case of F. Hasszán for several days following his arrest. Below are Orange Files translations of excerpts from reports regarding F. Hassan shown during the half-hour 10 p.m. news program broadcast on Hungarian Television’s M1 station from March 23 through March 27. These reports constituted the lead story for four consecutive days, from March 23 through March 26, and the second story on March 27.

March 23 (source in Hungarian)

Newscaster (0:47): The court could decide tomorrow regarding the arrest of the Syrian man who according to the suspicion [of authorities] was an Islamic State fighter and may have participated in the execution of at least 20 people before he traveled to the European Union.

Newscaster (1:10): The Counter Terrorism Center is trying to determine along with foreign authorities what he has been doing for the past two or three years. It is also unknown how many similar terrorists came to Europe along with the immigrants.

Reporter (1:39): According to the suspicion [of authorities], the 27-year-old Syrian man organized suicide attacks and directed executions as a high-ranking leader of the Islamic State terror organization. He took part in the murder of at least 20 people in Syria. He also appeared as a bloody-handed executioner in the Islamic State’s propaganda videos.

Reporter (3:10): On Saturday, the Counter Terrorism Center announced further details about the man. They wrote that in the Nyírbátor detention center he wore exclusively black clothing just like Islamic State fighters, but did not participate in common prayers.

Reporter (3:30): That the man has been a member of the Islamic State since 2016 came to light as the result of cooperation between the Budapest Chief Prosecutor’s Office, the Counter Terrorism Center and Belgian authorities.

Screenshot from March 23 Hungarian Television news.

March 24 (source in Hungarian)

Newscaster (0:54): The court has ordered the arrest of the 27-year-old man who according to the suspicion [of authorities] was one of the leaders of the Islamic State in Syria a few years ago and organized suicide missions and directed executions. He came to Europe with the immigrants in 2016 and was caught at Ferihegy airport [Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport] last December during an identity check.

Reporter (2:40): M1 has learned that F. Hassan can neither read nor write. As a result of the decline in the Islamic State’s power, he went to Greece, where he obtained a refugee card. He visited several European countries with this paper. Procedures were launched against him in Hungary last December for human trafficking because he wanted to get a woman out of the country using travel documents issued in someone else’s name.

Reporter (3:34): The TEK convoy transporting the Syrian man is arriving to the prison [as Counter Terrorism Center vehicles with darkened windows and wailing sirens arrive to the Budapest Correctional Institute in the background].

Screenshot from March 24 Hungarian Television news.

March 25 (source in Hungarian)

Newscaster (0:47): After arriving to the [European] Union the Syrian man, who according to the suspicion [of authorities] was one of the leaders of the Islamic State, received an anonymous bank card. The man’s lawyer confirmed this information to M1. They apparently transferred 500 euros, or more than 150,000 forints, per month to the card that in theory he could use only in Greece.

TEK Director János Hajdú (2:10): We will examine all information that comes from the man’s mouth or that comes to our attention, not alone, but with the help of our international partners.

Reporter (3:12): The F. Hassan affair came up during a session of parliament as well. According to the Prime Ministerial Cabinet Office State Secretary [Csaba Dömötör], the case of the Syrian man also proves that with the migrant cards Brussels may be providing financial support to terrorists.

State Secretary Csaba Dömötör [speaking in parliament] (3:26): This brutal jihadist can be connected to the execution of at least 20 people and in typical fashion portrayed himself as a refugee. He also received an anonymous bank card with money on it.

Reporter (3:51): According to information from the investigation, the Syrian man executed 20 members of a family in the city of Homs out of revenge or to intimidate the population because one of them had refused to join the terrorist organization. In addition, F. Hassan appeared in the Islamic State’s propaganda videos. The Budapest Investigative Prosecutor’s Office is conducting proceedings against the man. F. Hassan denies everything. He says that they have mistaken him for somebody else.

Screenshot from March 25 Hungarian Television news.

March 26 (source in Hungarian)

Newscaster (0:15): Several million [currency unspecified] may have already been transferred to the suspected Syrian terrorist’s anonymous bank card. According to Fidesz, this affair is scandalous.

Newscaster (0:55): Neither the [European] Union nor the U.N. have yet reacted to the news that the Syrian man who, according to the suspicion [of authorities] was one of the leaders of the Islamic State and was arrested in Hungary over the weekend, received an anonymous bank card in Europe. As we reported yesterday, 500 euros, or more than 150,000 forints, were transferred to him and his family each month. He arrived to Greece in 2016. Since then the amount [of money] placed on his card may have reached as high as several million forints. The European Commission previously declared that the card method works well and that asylum seekers cannot abuse it.

Reporter (1:43): According to the testimony of a protected witness, F. Hassan may have participated in the slaughter of at least ten people here [in Homs]. The [pro-government daily newspaper] Magyar Nemzet writes that the witness testified to a Belgian secret-service officer that the man suspected of terrorism [F. Hassan] conducted recruitment for the Islamic State. According to the testimony of the witness, when several members of a family refused to join, he executed them.

Reporter (4:32): According to Fidesz, Brussels is indirectly supporting terrorism with the bank cards provided to immigrants.

Fidesz National Assembly Caucus Spokesman János Halász (5:01): Scandalous information has come to light over the past days regarding F. Hassan, who was apprehended in Hungary. According to his appointed defense attorney, this terrorist—this person suspected of terrorism— received a Brussels migrant card. We have indicated from the very beginning that the migrant card sponsored and operated by the European Commission is dangerous, because it lends itself, may lend itself, to the support of terrorism as well.

Screenshot from March 26 Hungarian Television news.

March 27 (source in Hungarian)

Newscaster (2:03): The European Commission has no information [showing] that the Syrian jihadist apprehended in Hungary on Friday gained access to [European] Union money with an anonymous bank card. However, the man’s lawyer himself confirmed this to M1. The Brussels body nevertheless claims that authorities are able to perfectly verify the users of the cards. According to Fidesz, it has become absolutely clear that terrorist leaders also use the cards, which presents an enormous threat to Europe, and thus the cards must be immediately eliminated.

Reporter (3:13): It can be seen clearly that no names appear on the cards next to a row of numbers with the logos of the U.N. and the [European] Union. The point of the program is for migrants in Greece to receive monetary support from the [European] Union after registration and before the judgment of their asylum requests as well, thus preventing the provision of immigrants from overburdening the Greek state. This may be how F. Hassan, who was arrested in Hungary on Sunday, gained possession of an anonymous bank card.

Fidesz National Assembly Caucus Spokesman János Halász (5:04): It is has become perfectly clear that terrorist leaders can use the migrant card as well.

Reporter (5:10): According to Fidesz, the fact that F. Hassan received one of the anonymous bank cards proves that the assistance program represents an enormous security threat for Europe.

Fidesz National Assembly Caucus Spokesman János Halász (5:20): Many suspect that the Syrian terrorist leader moved about freely in Europe with the European Commission’s migrant card and in this case Brussels provided him with money. The question arises: how many more terrorists received such cards and to how many terrorists is Brussels transferring money?

Screenshot from March 27 Hungarian Television news.

Stage 4: Media Campaign Surrounding Migrant Caravans

On March 28, the pro-government Migration Research Institute (Migrációkutató Intézet)1 published a report regarding the organization of two migrant caravans—The Caravan of Hope in Turkey and the Glitter of Hope Caravan in Greece (source in Hungarian).

The Migration Research Institute report stated that an Istanbul-based organization called the Forum of Syrian Associations (Szíriai Egyesületek Fóruma in Hungarian and Minbar al-Jamʻiyyat al-suriyya in Arabic) was “representing” the organizers of the Caravan of Hope in Turkey.2 According to the report, 37,000 people had registered to participate in the caravan. However, the report noted that “Based on available information, the organization of the Glitter of Hope caravan in Greece is in a more advanced phase and its chance of departing are significantly better than that of the initiative in Turkey.”

The Migration Research Institute’s information regarding the Glitter of Hope Caravan in Greece was based on an Arab-language Facebook page. The operators of the Glitter of Hope Caravan Facebook page were unknown individuals who had removed the page by early April. According to the report, a March 25 post on the Glitter of Hope Caravan Facebook page stated that the borders of Greece were to be temporarily opened on April 5. The Facebook post called upon migrants who wanted to take advantage of this brief opening of the frontiers to gather in the city of Ioanna, Greece, about 40 kilometers south of the Albanian border, in order to make a collective trek northward. The Migration Research Institute report concluded that “Based on the point of departure and the previous West Balkan migration routes, the caravan may presumably wish to reach Western Europe via Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia.”

The Migration Research Institute report stated that the operators of the Facebook page claimed that 20,000 people had registered to participate in the Glitter of Hope Caravan. The report noted that the page had received more than 8,000 likes and had a similar number of followers and that “In 2015, a similar initiative resulted in mass migration toward the European Union.”

The Migration Research Institute report suggested that the Western press was intentionally ignoring the caravans being formed in Turkey and Greece for the following reason:

The lack of Western response is completely understandable: the appearance of any kind of caravan would fundamentally refute the “migration-crisis-has-come-to-and-end” narrative of the past few weeks and would unequivocally lead to a strengthening of the viewpoint of the Polish, Hungarian and Italian governments in the EP [European Parliament] election campaign, while it would improve the position of the political forces opposing immigration in the countries of Western Europe and undermine the credibility of those who represent the viewpoint which currently still counts as that of the majority.

Hungarian public media and pro-government private media focused on news surrounding the formation of the Glitter of Hope Caravan in Greece for two days following the publication of the Migration Research Institute report on March 28 and then, after a three-day hiatus during which news regarding the above-mentioned alleged ISIS executioner Hassan F. again came to the fore, for four more days until the official beginning of the Fidesz-KDNP European Parliament election campaign on April 5.

Neither the Caravan of Hope nor the Glitter of Hope Caravan materialized, though Greek police had to use tear gas and percussion grenades to prevent between 1,500 and 2,000 migrants from leaving the Diavata Refugee Camp near Thessaloniki in order to to participate in the latter caravan (source A, B and C in English).

Below are Orange Files translations of excerpts from reports regarding the Caravan of Hope and Glitter of Hope Caravan shown during the half-hour 10 p.m. news program broadcast on Hungarian Television’s M1 station on the dates March 28–March 29 and April 2–April 5. These reports constituted the lead story on five of these six dates.

March 28 (source in Hungarian)

Newscaster (0:13): A migrant caravan with tens of thousands [of people] is being organized. They may depart already next week. NGOs are helping them.

Newscaster (0:47): A migrant caravan with several tens of thousands [of people] is being organized in Turkey and Greece. The goal is for them to depart for Western Europe, the Migration Research Institute warns. The caravan is being organized via social media. They call this initiative the Caravan of Hope and write that its success depends on Allah. The trip cutting through Europe may be especially attractive for immigrants because according to the summons they can join it at no cost and humanitarian organizations will also help them. According to the specialist who talked to M1, mass migration started in 2015 after a similar initiative.

Reporter (1:53): Over the next weeks, tens of thousands of migrants plan to set off from Turkey and Greece toward Germany, the most recent Migration Research Institute analysis warns. According to the [Migration Research Institute] study, almost 40,000 people, mostly Syrians, have joined the Caravan of Hope–designated initiative in Turkey, while at the same time a caravan consisting of migrants stuck in Greece is also being organized. One of the organizers of the departure from Greece wrote in his summons that they expect Allah to ensure the success of the trip.

Reporter (2:50): According to the Migration Research Institute analysis, along with family members, the number of people in the caravan could swell to several times its current number. The organization [of the caravan] at no cost and the help of humanitarian organizations could make the trip even more attractive. The study also draws attention to the fact that mass migration toward the [European] Union started after a similar initiative in 2015. This is what the Serbian-Hungarian border looked like then . Almost warlike conditions materialized. The immigrants issued an ultimatum to the Hungarian police to open the Röszke border [crossing point] and when this did not happen they broke through the gate. Police and counter-terrorism forces attempted to stop the crowd.

Reporter (3:34): However, the Western press has remained silent about the migrant caravan. This is what the deputy director of the Migration Research Institute told [M1] news. Szabolcs Janik attributed this to the European Parliament campaign and to the fact that the departure of the migrant caravan would refute communications from Brussels according to which the migration crisis has come to an end.

Screenshot from March 28 Hungarian Television news.

March 29 (source in Hungarian)

Reporter (7:04): Another migrant caravan with several tens of thousands [of people] could depart from Turkey and Greece in the direction of the Balkans over the next few days. Masses of people are being recruited on the internet via social media sites. Almost 40,000 people, mostly Syrians, have joined the Caravan of Hope–designated initiative in Turkey. According to the posts [on these sites], they will take the immigrants to the points of departure by bus.

Reporter (7:56): [Migration Research Institute Deputy Director] Szabolcs Janik pointed out that the 2015 migration wave also began with a similar action. The convoy now being organized in Greece could leave as early as next week. Based on internet posts, the organizers expect NGOs and Allah to ensure the success of the trip.

Screenshot from March 29 Hungarian Television news.

April 2 (source in Hungarian)

Newscaster (0:54): The migrants in Greece are 100-percent sure that the border will be opened for them if the caravan departs. This is what immigrants waiting in the vicinity of Thessaloniki told [M1] news. The migrants also said that in the interest of the success of the trip, the organizers have not revealed many details to them. But several of them stated that they are very optimistic. Several thousand [people] have already joined the action named Glitter of Hope that has been being organized in Greece for weeks on social media sites and according to reports, the migrants could leave this week.

Reporter (2:41): The action named Glitter of Hope has been being organized in Greece for weeks. Masses of people are being recruited via social media sites. According to reports, several thousand people have already joined the private groups.

Screenshot from April 2 Hungarian Television news.

April 3 (source in Hungarian):

Newscaster (0:42): Day by day, an increasing number of migrants stuck in Greece have confirmed to an M1 reporter that they know about the migrant caravan being organized on the internet. They are confident that at least 10,000 people with come together and then it will not be possible to stop them at the Greek border. Additional groups [of migrants] have arrived to Thessaloniki presumably so that they can join the caravan if it forms.

Reporter (1:35): All of the migrants asked by M1 had heard about it [the migrant caravan] and plan to join it. [Female migrant speaking in English] “Yes its true because I’m one of them. . . .”

Newscaster (3:30) : The migrant caravan is expected to leave form Thessaloniki on April 5, that is Friday. The migrants are saying that they will find out on Thursday if they will depart toward Albania or Macedonia. Thus they are preparing for departure. However, nobody knows for sure whether the caravan will leave. Reportedly not a single humanitarian organization supports it.

Screenshot from April 4 Hungarian Television news.

April 4 (source in Hungarian):

Newscaster (0:47): The clashes between illegal immigrants and police in Greece have already resulted in injuries. The members of the immigrant caravan gathered throughout the day in Thessaloniki. The crowd [of migrants] is aggressive and attacked police several times. Teargas had to be used against them. The M1 crew recorded several shocking images during the bloody events. Over the last hour or two, the group of illegal immigrants has pitched camp and the situation is relatively calm.

Newscaster (1:59): According to the estimate of our reporter, more than 2,000 people had gathered by the afternoon. If the leaders feel that they have reached the critical mass, then they will immediately depart toward the interior of Europe. Several people both here at home and abroad declared in vain over the past few days that the information regarding the caravan was fake news. Today it became clear that it isn’t [fake news]. Word is spreading like wildfire among the immigrants that it is worthwhile for them to join [the caravan].

Government Chief Internal Security Advisor György Bakondi (4:17): Recently it has been characteristic of the leaders of the European [Union] bureaucracy, Mr. Avramopoulos,3 Mr. Timmermans4 and others as well, that they have declared that, well in fact, there is no longer any illegal migration.

Government Spokesman István Hollik (5:50): If such a migrant caravan reaches the border, the southern fence [border barrier] would come under much greater pressure. Authorities could handle this as well and since there is more and more information indicating that they [migrants in Greece] could depart and that the migrant caravan could break through the police cordons and start off toward Europe, the Hungarian government is naturally preparing for this situation. The police and soldiers are in a state of full readiness and we are going to defend our borders. The migrants must know that they will surely not be able to enter the territory of Hungary illegally.

Screenshot from April 4 Hungarian Television news.

April 5 (source in Hungarian)

Newscaster (0:48): The immigrant caravan in Greece is ready to depart. The leaders decided early in the afternoon that they would set off toward the interior of Europe. However, the police have so far been able to stop them. It’s true that in order to do this they had to use tear-gas grenades. The illegal immigrants used the tactic that is well-known in the Middle East: they started the field next to their camp on fire so that they might be able to break through police [cordon] because of the flames and smoke. Now they have retreated into their tents for the night.

Reporter (1:16): Riot police surrounded the migrant caravan as it prepared to depart. The approximately 1,500 illegal immigrants who gathered in a field next to the Diavata Reception Center set off packed up and ready to go when their road was blocked.

Correspondent (1:31): They set off and found themselves facing a police cordon. After the first percussion grenades went off and they got a bit of tear gas as well, the crowd divided into two. . . . Their number has grown over the past 15–20 minutes. The number of Greek police as well. We saw several police buses arriving.

Reporter (2:05): The migrants were visibly not interested in the police. They tried to get out from the field [surrounding the camp] in close ranks. There are leaders in the group who visibly directed the movement of the migrants. There were several scuffles between the police and the immigrants. The migrants are so determined that they even started the field on fire.

Newscaster (3:27): News of the caravan continues to spread like wildfire among the immigrants and that it may be worthwhile to join [it]. For this reason, immigrants are trying to get to Thessaloniki from all parts of Greece. However, at several locations the Greek police prevented larger groups [of migrants] from departing. At one train station in Athens several of them lay down on the tracks and there were even some who sent their children onto the rails in front of the trains, thus paralyzing [railway] traffic. In this way they wanted to get them [Greek authorities] to take them to Thessaloniki. Over the past years, it has already occurred elsewhere, for example at the Hungarian border, that the immigrants used their own children in an attempt to blackmail authorities.

Screenshot from April 5 Hungarian Television news.

 

¹The Migration Research Institute was jointly founded by the pro-government think tank Századvég and the Budapest Corvinus University’s Mathias Corvinus Collegium during the height of the European migrant crisis in September 2015.

² Orange Files found no websites operating under the names Forum of Syrian Associations or Minbar al-Jamʻiyyat al-suriyya.  

³ European Union Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos.

4 First Vice President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans.

Stage 5: Launching of the Fidesz European Parliament Election Campaign

Prime Minister Orbán introduces his seven-point anti-immigration program (photo: hvg.hu).

On April 5, Prime Minister Orbán officially launched the Fidesz campaign for the 2019 European Parliament election. Speaking at a party assembly in Budapest, Orbán said “the stakes [of the EP election] are whether the [European] Union will have pro-immigration or anti-immigration leaders. We will decide whether we will defend our Christian culture or if we will give ground to multiculturalism (source in Hungarian).

The prime minister subsequently introduced the following seven-point program to be implemented following the EP election in order to stop migration to Europe (video source in Hungarian):

1. The handling of migration must be taken away from the Brussels bureaucrats and must be given back to the national governments.

2. It must be clearly stated that no country can be obliged to admit migrants against its will.

3. We must say that nobody should be allowed to enter Europe without valid identification and documents.

4. With one simple flick of the wrist we should eliminate the migrant cards and the migrant visa as well.

5. Brussels should not give any more money to György Soros’s immigration-supporting organizations. Instead they should compensate for the costs of the border fence.

6. In Europe nobody should be subjected to negative discrimination because they declare themselves to be Christians.

7. Those who are entitled to do so, mainly the European Parliament and the European Council, that leaders who oppose immigration stand at the head of [European] Union institutions.

The prime minister concluded his speech with the following exhortation (video source in Hungarian):

I ask the Hungarian people, all of us to sign the program introduced here and to go out and vote on May 26. Go out and we’ll show Brussels on May 26, we’ll show that the Soros NGO’s will not have the final word and the Brussels bureaucrats will proclaim it from their dusky offices, but that it is always the people who proclaim it in the voting booths. Go Hungary! Go Hungarians!

‘For Us, Hungary Is First in Brussels Too!”: Fidesz-KDNP brochure publicizing Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s seven-point anti-immigration program (click to enlarge).

Stage 6: Signage Campaign

The Fidesz-KDNP party alliance had signs reading “Let’s Support Viktor Orbán’s Program, Let’s Stop Immigration!” (Támogassuk Orbán Viktor programját, állítsuk meg a bevándorlást!) put up throughout the city of Budapest—and presumably all of Hungary—beginning on May 6, the day after the prime minister introduced his seven-point program aimed at stopping immigration to Europe (source in Hungarian).

(photo: Orange Files)

Stage 7: Signature Drive

On May 6, Fidesz launched a national campaign to collect signatures in support for Prime Minister Orbán’s anti-immigration program (source in Hungarian).

Fidesz activists collect signatures in village of Komádi in eastern Hungary (photo: 444.hu).

Stage 8: Consecration of Church

On May 7, Prime Minister Orbán spoke at the consecration of a Reformed church in Budapest. Orbán’s speech received extensive coverage in the public and pro-government private media. During his speech, Orbán said “We Hungarians believe that Christian culture is not just one source of strength among many, but the source of all strength, the cornerstone that holds the edifice of European civilization together. Without it, there is no freedom and there is no European life either” (video source in Hungarian).

Prime Minister Orbán speaks during consecration of church in Budapest (photo: MTI).

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The Umpteenth Campaign

On February 15, 2019, Spokesman István Hollik announced that the Orbán government would launch an “information action regarding the plans in Brussels to encourage immigration because we think that all Hungarian people have the right to know about those proposals that fundamentally threaten Hungary’s security” (sources A and B in Hungarian).

The Signs

(photo: Orange Files)

A few days later, signs showing unflattering images of Hungarian-American financier György/George Soros and European Commission (EC) President Jean-Claude Juncker alongside the text “You Also Have the Right to Know What Brussels Is Preparing to Do!” (Önnek is joga van tudni, mire készül Brüsszel!) appeared in large number on the streets of Budapest.

The Letters

In late February, voters in Hungary received the following letter from Prime Minister Viktor Orbán providing more detail about “what Brussels is preparing to do”:

Esteemed Compatriots!

I am writing in order to inform You about the alarming developments in the immigration crisis.

Brussels has learned nothing from the dreadful terrorist attacks of the past years. It wants to bring even more immigrants to Europe. The bureaucrats are now preparing to stimulate immigration with new measures. Following the introduction of the migrant visa and the migrant bank card, they would give more money to György Soros’s immigration-supporting organizations. They continue to want to distribute immigrants in Europe through obligatory quotas.

We Hungarians decided that we do not want our homeland to became a country of immigration.

We want to protect our security and our Christian culture. This is why we built a fence and this is why we are defending our borders. However, the Brussels bureaucrats do not want to respect our decision. They want to break the resistance of the countries opposing immigration in the interest of reaching their objectives.

You also have the right to know what Brussels is preparing to do. This is why I am turning to you now: please read the enclosed information regarding Brussels’s planned steps.

Respectfully,

Viktor Orbán

Prime minister of Hungary

According the “enclosed information” attached to Prime Minister Orbán’s letter, the European Union—cited in the third-person plural—is preparing to take the following steps:

1. They want to introduce the mandatory resettlement quota.

2. They want to weaken the border-protection rights of member states.

3. They would facilitate immigration with a migrant visa.

4. They want to give even more money to organizations supporting migration.

5. They would also assist migration with a bank card with accessible funds.

6. They would launch experimental immigration projects with countries in Africa.

7. They want to reduce financial support for countries that oppose immigration.

 

                                                                      click to enlarge

The European Commission Response

On February 19, the EC published the following response to the Orbán government’s signs on Facebook in both English and Hungarian:

On February 25, the EC published a Hungarian-language communiqué entitled “Facts regarding European Union Migration Policy” (Tények az uniós migrációs politikáról) refuting each of the Orbán government’s claims in detail (source in Hungarian).

Conservative–Christian Democratic Condemnation  

Leaders of the Conservative–Christian democratic European People’s Party (EPP) European Parliament political group with which the FideszChristian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) alliance is affiliated as well as leaders of other regional EPP member parties denounced the Orbán government’s “information action.” Among the EPP and EPP-affiliated national-party leaders who voiced such condemnation were the following:

European People’s Party Group Leader Manfred Weber (source in German);

European People’s Party President Joseph Daul (source in English);

Christian Democratic Union leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (source in German);

Christian Social Union leader Markus Söder (source in German);

Austrian People’s Party Chairman and Chancellor of Austria Sebastian Kurz (source in German);

and Croatian Democratic Union President and Prime Minister of Croatia Andrej Plenković (source in English).

Initiative to Expel Fidesz-KDNP from the EPP

As of March 1, nine parties¹ affiliated with the European People’s Party from seven different states indicated that they were prepared to initiate the expulsion of Fidesz and the Christian Democratic People’s Party from the EPP, thus surpassing the minimum of seven parties from five different states required to force a member party to leave the European Parliament political group (source A in Hungarian and B in English).

On March 4, European People’s Party President Joseph Daul announced that EPP officials would consider the initiative to expel Fidesz-KDNP in response to the the Orbán government’s current anti–European Union propaganda campaign at the party’s political assembly in Brussels on March 20 (source in English).

Daul remarked during an interview published in the German newspaper Die Welt on March 5 that Prime Minister Orbán “had crossed the red line” with his government’s current anti-EU campaign (source in German).

European People’s Party Group Leader Manfred Weber stated during an interview published in the German tabloid Bild on March 5 that Prime Minister Orbán would have to satisfy the following three conditions in order to prevent the expulsion of Fidesz-KDNP from the EPP: immediately and permanently halt his government’s anti–European Union propaganda campaigns; apologize for these campaigns to Fidesz-KDNP’s fellow EPP member parties; and guarantee the continued existence of the Central European University in Budapest (source in English).

¹ The Moderate Party and the Christian Democrats of Sweden; the National Coalition Party of Finland; Christian Democratic Appeal of the Netherlands; the Christian Social People’s Party of Luxembourg; the Humanist Democratic Centre and the Christian Democratic and Flemish of Belgium; the Democratic and Social Centre-People’s Party of Portugal; and New Democracy of Greece.

Orbán Government Response

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán characterized those who have denounced his government’s current propaganda campaign as “useful idiots”² in an interview published in the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag on March 2 (source in English):

Orbán: [. . .] in the political scientific literature they are characterized, following Lenin, as useful idiots. While they believe they are fighting an intellectual battle, they serve the power interests of others, of our opponents.

Welt am Sonntag: Critical Christian democrats are useful idiots?

Orbán: Those who prefer a division of the EPP to its unity—yes. I have no sympathy for our Scandinavian EPP members, but I would never propose to expel them. I know that this would only be grist to the mill of the left [. . .]

Orbán stated during the interview that the government would replace the image of Jean-Claude Juncker on the signs with that of Frans Timmermans, the European Parliament Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats party-group candidate for president of the European Commission:

In the next phase our party campaign will begin and then you will find someone else on the posters: Mr. Timmermans. We will send Mr. Juncker into retirement and Mr. Timmermans will replace him on our posters.

On March 3, Minister of External Economy and Foreign Affairs Péter Szijjártó made the following statement during an interview on the pro-government television station HírTV (source in Hungarian):

We are a nation that possesses over 1,000 years of statehood and which cannot be played around with just like that. This visibly moves them [members of the European Commission] out of their comfort zone and they don’t understand how it can be that a [country such as] Hungary dares to say what the European Commission is preparing to do. And in Hungary they dare to say that György Soros arranged the notation for the migration policy that the European Commission is implementing.

² The term useful idiot is commonly attributed to Vladimir Lenin and refers to somebody who unwittingly promotes the interests of a political force with which they are not affiliated.

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Pre-Election Sampler from the Freesheets

Below are scanned images from the final two issues of the free daily newspaper Lokál and the final issue of the free weekly newspaper Lokál Extra published before the April 8 National Assembly election in Hungary.

The 12-page Lokál has a daily circulation of 150,000 copies and is distributed at public-transportation, railway and inter-city bus stations in Budapest. The 24-page Lokál Extra has a circulation of 1,160,000 copies and is delivered to homes and residential buildings in Budapest and 24 other cities in Hungary (source in Hungarian).

The newspapers operate under the ownership of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s chief strategic adviser Árpád Habony and former legal adviser Tibor Győri.

The free newspapers derive a significant proportion of their revenue from publicly financed advertisements for the Orbán government or state-owned companies such as the Hungarian Electrical Works, Hungarian State Railways and lottery company Szerencsejáték.  

Both free newspapers overtly support the Orbán government and the FideszChristian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) governing coalition.

Most of the articles published in Lokál and Lokál Extra just before the April 8 National Assembly election promoted the campaign strategy and platform of the Orbán government and the Fidesz-KDNP alliance, portraying Muslim migration as a grave security, cultural and religious threat to Hungary and depicting Prime Minister Orbán and the parties under his command as the political forces that are willing and able to defend the country from this menace and the opposition parties and their leaders as the pawns of Hungarian-American investor and philanthropist George/György Soros and the local proponents of his alleged pro-migration policies known collectively as the Soros Plan.

Appearing underneath the scanned images of pages from Lokál and Lokál Extra are translations of the main titles and some of the secondary titles from the given page as well as excerpts from the text of some of the attending articles.

Note that Gábor Vona, who is the subject of many of the articles appearing below, is the president of the opposition party Jobbik.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Lokál, April 6, page 1

 Viktor Orbán: “There is going to be a big battle this weekend. Nobody should stay at home.” 

This Sunday Two Times Fidesz

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Lokál, April 5 and April 6, page 2

 Orbán government campaign advertisement showing a stop sign superimposed on a dense column of migrants marching through the countryside somewhere along the Balkan migration route in 2015.

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Lokál, April 5, page 3

Soros’s Candidates SAID NO to the Fence

“They are lying. This summarizes the electoral machinations of the opposition. These political officials are eating from György Soros’s plate and can hardly wait to win on Sunday so they can open the way for migrants to come pouring into Hungary.”

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Lokál, April 6, page 7

 A Migrant Murdered a Women Who Wanted to Help Him

“A Somalian migrant stabbed to death a 22-year-old woman who was helping refugees at the reception camp in Mölndal in southern Sweden.”

Facts About Migration

“There are 186 no-go zones in Sweden, of which 55 are particularly dangerous. Migrants rape one in eight Swedish women. The number of sex crimes has risen 26 percent in Austria and 670 percent in Leipzig because of migrants. People of ‘foreign background’ commit one out of two crimes in Australia. Migrants commit 93 out of every 100 crimes in Germany. The number of crimes has risen 10.4 percent as a result of this. Migrants attacked 1,035 physicians in France last year alone. A total of 70 million people could leave Nigeria for Europe over the next five years.”

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Lokál, April 5, page 6

 A Migrant Murdered Two Women and Lived with Their Corpses for Months

Africans Committed Rape in Prague

An Immigrant Committed a Stabbing While Shouting Allahu Akbar

Orbán: the Fence Protects Budapest as Well

See entire post.

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Orbán Gov’t and Party Campaign Signs

Above are Orange Files photos of the two main 2018 election campaign signs (click to enlarge) of the Viktor Orbán–led government of Hungary and Fidesz political party. They currently appear in large number on billboards, advertising columns and bus-stop shelters throughout Budapest (and presumably all of Hungary).

The sign at left is that of the government of Hungary. It reads:

The UN wants us to continuously receive immigrants.

———HUNGARY DECIDES, NOT THE UN!

The sign at right is that of the Fidesz party. It shows Hungarian-American investor and philanthropist György/George Soros flanked by the four main opposition candidates for prime minister (from left to right: Bernadett Szél of Politics Can Be Different; Ferenc Gyurcsány of the Democratic Coalition; Gábor Vona of Jobbik; and Gergely Karácsony of the Hungarian Socialist Party and Dialogue for Hungary). It reads:

TOGETHER THEY WOULD DISMANTLE THE BORDER BARRIER

The Orbán government sign refers to the proposed “Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration” that the United Nations published in February 2018 (see document).

Minister of External Economy and Foreign Affairs Péter Szijjártó announced on March 1, 2018, that the Orbán government rejects the basic premise of the proposed UN compact, which according to Szijjártó is that “migration is a good thing and unstoppable” (source in English).

In his annual “State of the Nation” address on February 18, 2018, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in reference to the UN compact, specifically to the statement in it that “Migration has been part of the human experience throughout history, and we recognize that it can be a source of prosperity, innovation and sustainable development in our globalized world” (source in English):

This is obviously utter nonsense. It’s incomprehensible why they would think us to be such raving lunatics as to accept this and then implement it. We must bluntly state that Hungary is not a country of deranged people. We understand that George Soros’s organizations have not only installed themselves in Brussels and Budapest, but also in New York, at the UN. We understand that they are spending incalculable sums of money on pushing through acceptance for migration at a global level.

The Fidesz sign refers to the so-called “Soros Plan” pertaining to the 2015 European migration crisis (see National Consultation on the Soros Plan). According to a post regarding the sign published on the official Fidesz Facebook site (source in Hungarian):

For the opposition leaders, Soros’s will is the most important. They are prepared to implement the Soros Plan: they would dismantle the border barrier and settle immigrants [in Hungary]. Therefore, although they appear to be hopelessly feeble, they are nevertheless dangerous.

In fact, neither George Soros nor any of the four prime ministerial candidates shown on the sign, nor the five parties they represent advocate dismantling Hungary’s southern border barrier (source in Hungarian).

Both signs correspond to the single-theme campaign platform of the Orbán government and Fidesz for the April 8, 2018, general election. Prime Minister Orbán concisely described this platform during a March 1, 2018, television interview (source in Hungarian):

Hungary stands before two paths from which it can choose: either there will be a national government and then we won’t be a country of immigration; or György Soros’s people will form a government and then Hungary will become a country of immigration.

Update: two weeks before the general election, the Orbán government and Fidesz replaced the above campaign signs with those shown below. On the left is the government sign, which displays a stop sign superimposed on a dense column of migrants. On the right is the Fidesz sign, which displays the same five people as the party’s previous sign next to text reading “Let’s Stop Soros’s Candidates!

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Referendum Homestretch on Hungarian Television

Below are screenshots taken from programs broadcast on the M1 news channel of state-run Hungarian Television from 3:00 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. on October 2, 2016—that is, until half an hour before the closing of polls in Hungary’s referendum on European Union migrant-resettlement quotas (see Hungary’s 2016 Referendum on European Union Migrant Resettlement Quotas and The Referendum That Couldn’t Fail).

Aside from intermittent weather bulletins and a report on the new leadership of the U.K. Labour Party, newscasts and programs broadcast on M1 during this three-and-a-half-hour period dealt with just two issues—the referendum results and migration.

The screenshots are from the various reports on migration. Note that in 2013, the National Assembly approved an amendment to Hungary’s electoral laws that eliminated campaign silence (source in Hungarian).

See entire post.

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Slaying the Gentle Giant

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Orange Files photograph of Baba that ripost.hu used without citing the source. 

On January 11, 2016, the on-line tabloid ripost.hu published an article entitled “Serial Criminal Ex-Convict at the Head of Soros’s Hungarian Migrant Organization!” (Börtönviselt, sokszoros bűnöző Soros magyar migráns­szervezetének élén!) regarding Baba, the most prominent volunteer for the Migration Aid non-governmental organization that provided food, clothing and other forms of assistance to tens of thousands of migrants as they passed through Hungary on their way to Germany in the summer and early autumn of 2015 (source in Hungarian).

The ripost.hu article claimed that Migration Aid, which started as a Facebook group in June 2015, was part of a “well developed Soros migrant-assistance network” that “following its establishment immediately received support from the Budapest Soros Foundation.”

The article used the following terms and phrases to describe Baba, an enormous man whom Western media such as The Guardian and the Associated Press dubbed the “Gentle Giant”: “refined criminal”; “serious criminal”; “dyed-in-the-wool swindler”; and “criminal well-known in the underworld.”

See entire post.

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The Röszke Telephones

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“Shocking images on abandoned telephones”: Hungarian Television shows its anonymous source (Orange Files screenshot).

On October 9, 2015, state-run Hungarian Television broadcast a report on images and videos allegedly found on telephones that migrants discarded after crossing into Hungary near the village of Röszke along the Hungarian-Serbian border earlier this year. Hungarian Television reported three days previously that it had received the telephones containing the images from an anonymous resident of Röszke who had “helped the authorities as a civilian volunteer in their work at the border” (source in Hungarian from 7:54).

The October 9 Hungarian Television report is typical of those that Hungary’s state-run media has broadcast regarding the Great Migration regularly over the past few months in order to support the Orbán government’s contention that migrants represent a grave immediate threat to the security of Hungary and all of Europe.

See entire post.

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