For €300,000 you can buy entrance into the countryby Tej Parikh / September 5, 2016 / Leave a comment
Read more: The new nationalism
When Hungary’s right-wing government, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, began an anti-immigrant billboard campaign last summer—with slogans such as “If you come to Hungary, you mustn’t take work away from Hungarians!”—it forgot to add the crucial line: but you’re welcome, as long as you have money.
According to the terms and conditions for Hungarian Residency Bonds (HRB)—a five-year government bond programme established by Orban’s Fidesz Party in 2013—an initial investment of €300,000 and a €60,000 processing fee is enough to buy a non-European Union citizen, and their family, Hungarian passports and access to the EU. Around 4,000 applications (not including family members) have already been processed up to July this year, according to PRLeap, with applicants hailing from China, Russia and the Gulf States. That figure is almost five times the number of migrants the EU proposed relocating to Hungary under its quota system last year, a policy the government challenges and on which the nation will hold a referendum on 2nd October.
As part of the Schengen Zone, Hungary has become the frontline of the EU’s migrant crisis since a record 137,000 crossed the Mediterranean into Europe in the first six months of 2015. Conflict-fleeing refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq have tried to enter Hungary in order to gain onward visa-free access to Northern Europe. Data from the UN refugee agency shows that just 146 of 177,135 applicants were granted asylum in Hungary last year. While Orban’s government has erected a 175-km razor-wire fence along the country’s southern border with Serbia, closed refugee centres and in July, began enforcing a law allowing the army to push refugees found in Hungary back over the border.
Orban justifies his policy with the fearmongering suggestion that migrants will dilute Hungary and Europe’s, “ethnic, cultural and religious identity.” In a late July press conference with Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern, he claimed immigration was “a poison.” “Hungary does not need a single migrant for the economy to work, or the population to sustain itself, or for the country to have a future,”…