Hungary’s controversial border fence

A line of barbed wire pokes above the tree tops as you approach the Serbian Hungarian border

Photo by: TRT WORLD
Photo by: TRT WORLD

Hungary border fence from the Serbian side

Hungary’s now notorious razor wire fence imposes itself above the windy cornfields and meadows near the quiet Serbian village of Horgos.

An old rusted railway line leads up to this multimillion dollar mesh of metal. It’s guarded by a few bored looking police officers and a soldier.

“This fence is a good thing,” one of the police officers says, “but I’m not allowed to talk to you about it.”

The whole area is littered with used water bottles, old cigarette packets and discarded clothes - a reminder of the thousands of refugees and migrants who were once waiting here hoping to enter the European Union.

Hungarian cleaners hired to tidy up the area by the border fence

“Before there were many migrants here. Now there is a fence and the migrants have gone,” a guard at a nearby farm indicates while pointing at the border.

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban says the fence is needed to protect Hungary against migrants who, he argues, threaten to “undermine Europe’s Christian roots”.

In one sense the fence has served its purpose. The number of refugees managing to cross the Serbian border into the country has been reduced to a trickle.

A stop sign written in numerous languages


But tens of thousands of people have travelled to Croatia and are now entering Hungary from there instead.

“Fences, dogs, cops, and guns: This looks like Europe in the 1930s,” Romania’s Prime Minister Victor Ponta said in mid-September. “Erecting a fence only throws the problem into Serbia, into Croatia, into Romania.”

In the small Romanian border town of Nadlac some people are critical of Hungary’s actions.

“I think every country in Europe should take people in, not just one,” says Majdan Ioan Gabriel, a student. “They should be able to go everywhere.”

Even Romania? I ask. “Even Romania yes,” he responds.

On a park bench, two Iraqi asylum seekers from Kirkuk sit around looking glum.

They’re Turkmen and have been in Romania for a month after being smuggled across the Turkey Bulgaria border.

Border guards have already twice caught them trying to cross into Hungary but the pair say they are determined to try again.

“Hungary is building walls but we really want to reach central Europe,” one of them says. “We don’t want to stay in Romania. We dream of going to Germany or the UK. We just don’t know how.”

Author: Duncan Crawford