Since 2015, immigration has become a major issue in Central Europe where, since the fall of Soviet communism, it was rather emigration that was the main social phenomenon. However, since the famous "migrant crisis" along the Balkan route, a lot has changed. And the faces you see in the streets of Warsaw, Budapest, Prague and Bratislava are changing too.
Summer 2015. Over a few weeks, a veritable migratory route was set up from Turkey and Greece to Hungary, the guardian of the Schengen area’s south-eastern border. Over the land, the phenomenon was organised by networks of smugglers and NGOs. Before long, almost 10,000 people a day were entering the Schengen area illegally. Overwhelmed by trying to apply the Schengen rules to the letter, Hungary called for help to the EU, which then denounced Hungary’s xenophobic attitude. Viktor Orbán took a radical step: within two months he built a border fence, which has since been guarded by the police and the army with the help of the other countries in the Visegrád Group.
The operation was an immediate success. Illegal immigrants still trying their luck were systematically sent back to Serbia, and those already in Hungary were transported en masse to the Austrian border one evening in September 2015. The Austrian Chancellor at the time, Faymann, criticised Hungary’s management, comparing it to the methods of Nazi Germany. He criticised Hungary for not allowing illegal immigrants to continue their journey westwards. Hungary ended up bringing them to him.