By Hanna Polishchuk
During our stop in Hungary, we had the opportunity to ask young people what they think about the European Union, borders and the refugee crisis. We would like to share with you some interesting answers we received from Péter Sczigel, 22, Hungarian, Student and the President of AEGEE-Budapest and Màtè Bàlint, 24 ,Hungarian, Analyst of the Central Bank of Hungary. They both have international experience, and travelled to other countries for different reasons. We asked them how easy it was for them to cross European borders.
Do you feel borders in Europe? If yes which ones?
Péter: Yes, both physical and mental. Outside the Schengen area borders are still very real, but I think that the biggest problem is that even inside Schengen most people still have a mental concept of borders between their country and the rest of Europe that really limits their thinking.
Did you have any difficulties crossing borders?
Do you feel European?
Màtè: I feel Hungarian and European as well. It is a hard question, maybe more Hungarian than European, but I would need more time to decide that,it’s not a clear idea in my mind yet.
Do you think that the European Union should extend or decrease?
Màtè: Well, I can’t think about the size, I have read that it will be expanded a little, including the Balkans, and some countries will join. There is also a plan for Turkey, but it is not decided yet. However, as far as I know it won’t expand, especially to the East. Now the composition of the countries and cultural differences is very fresh, so it would be really risky to expand it more.
Accession negotiations of Turkey (about joining the EU) started in 2005. What do you think are the reasons behind such a long process?
Péter: Because European people are reluctant to have a country with Muslim majority in Europe. Also, regarding the culture, Turkey is very different from Europe and due to its enormous population, Turkey would get a big proportion of votes in the European decision-making mechanisms, which is something that no one in Europe actually wants.
Do you think there is a refugee crisis in Europe? What is the refugee situation in Hungary? Do you feel safe in your country?
Màtè: Well, I know that there is a fence, and that they set the border, which according to what one of the parties in the government says, has a gate, and people who come peacefully and who are proven refugees can come. But the opposition said that it is a closed gate, and no one can come in: there is a fence and people who come there should go home. It is really hard to decide which is the case because I have not been there.
Right now, there are no refugees in Hungary because those who came in passed through, and then the borders were closed. As far as I know, refugees stopped in Turkey and did not go further because there were some caps for them. The European Union made an agreement with Turkey about this issue. Right now no one comes, and even if they came, there is a fence in Hungary; it is like a double security.
From the Hungarian side, I think it is important to accept refugees in an organized way so that people could not come to the Schengen area and just travel inside. Europe is a very fresh alliance, and it should not expand more because it would be too risky. Another point is that the fact that people can travel and come in without any IDs tempers social security because they would feel that they do not have any supervision.
Péter: Yes, there definitely is. The situation is not very serious in Hungary, as most refugees do not want to live here but rather move through the country to get to Western Europe. However, the refugee crisis provided a great political capital to the government, which communicated the situation in order to achieve their political goals. I absolutely feel safe, but I wouldn’t feel threatened even if Hungary was a major refugee destination.
What would you wish for the future of Europe?
Màtè: I think Europe should not jump from one idea to the opposite one, exaggerating one point or the other. In my opinion, the answer for questions like these, which separate people so much, is somewhere in the middle. And if you look at the European history, you can see that extremist ideas obviously led to bad decisions.
Péter: More unity, more solidarity, more European identity, less nationalism, less conservatism.