Dear Western Europe,
it seems you are in sulk about our unwillingness to accept
more any refugees. It hurts us to hurt your feelings, so please allow us to explain things from an Eastern European perspective. We are certain you that you will understand us better after listening to our arguments.
First, we really don’t have any space. We are tiny countries. Most people wouldn’t even find Lithuania or Slovakia on a map. How are the poor refugees supposed to find us? What, “Great Plains of Hungary”, “Poland is the 6th largest country in the EU” I hear you retort? Well, we can’t really count Poland because it has a tendency to lose large parts of its territory, if you remember.
Second, we are already full. All of our houses and apartments are so packed, you couldn’t even fit an extra cat into them. Heck, we don’t even know where to house our own people!
Oh. Anyway, these are the numbers of the past. Our population will increase dramatically in the future because we will appeal to the patriotic pride of our young women. What, our young women have all left to Western Europe and America? Damn. (10 of the 11 countries projected to lose the most population by 2050 are in Eastern Europe, with losses of up to 50%.)
Well, there you see it! We are experts in emigration, not in immigration. You can’t expect us to suddenly reverse course and do something completely different. That would cause major upheaval in our societies. It would be like asking a communist dictatorship to turn into a free-market democracy from one year to the next. Crazy! That could never work.
Third, our languages are really hard to learn. No one has ever mastered Hungarian. Lithuanians pride themselves on having a highly complicated language that nobody can learn. It would be unfair to expect refugees to learn a complicated language when they could also move to England or Italy with their simple idioms. Or to Malta, they speak Arabic there already.
Fourth, we have bears in our forests. It’s not really safe here. Probably more dangerous than in Syria.
Fifth, we are too cold. No, not us as human beings, the climate. Have you seen Doctor Zhivago with all the snow? Yes, that’s how it looks here. You can’t seriously expect people from the desert to settle in Siberia. No, we haven’t heard about Sweden and Norway accepting hundreds of thousands of refugees. Also, their snow is not as cold as ours. And we don’t believe you that Doctor Zhivago was Egyptian. Or if he was, well, you see how unhappy he was in Eastern Europe.
Sixth, most refugees are Muslims. We drink vodka, pálinka, rakija and slivovitz all the time. That would offend the refugees, so it’s better they move on to non-alcoholic countries like Germany, France or Britain where they are not confronted with beer and wine wherever they go.
Seventh, if you want to know the truth, we are either genuinely xenophobic and racist or we suck at public policy and are worried that our electorate will judge us by economic progress, education, health and other complicated stuff. It’s much easier to insult families who have narrowly escaped bombardment and snipers and call them terrorists. They are such perfect scapegoats, these black people with names like Muhammad and Ali. (If only they didn’t have these cute children with curly hair, they make our demagoguery a bit trickier.)
Lastly, have you ever seen how we treat our own minorities, the Roma? If we don’t even provide basic services like water, sewage, roads or schools to some of our own citizens, how do you expect us to do this for foreigners?
We hope you have gained an understanding of our perfectly legitimate reasons to refuse any solidarity, help, compassion and humanity.
PS: The next tranche of the regional restructuring funds is due next week on Monday. Please make sure the bank transfer will occur on time!
Excellent piece! Sadly, things look the same in Poland :<
If the integration works well in Germany and in Scandinavia, the Eastern European countries will kick their ass in 20 years. (And the German football team will be unbeatable.)
I dunno, I think there will be always anti-immigrants aptitude in Eastern Europe : < And this will mean there will be hard integration :< I hope I am wrong…
Very well-written. I’m still laughing. :) The emigration experts, who are afraid that refugees get seduced by beer, loose their religion and get attacked by bears in icy cold special snow. Hilarious. Eastern Europe is definitely a dangerous area and Syria seems so much safer….
Thank you very much!
All of it is true, otherwise how else do you explain why even Eastern Europeans are leaving Eastern Europe?
Maybe they wanted to make space for refugees? An act of humanitarian assistance.
Your article really hit the spot for me! It’s really sad to hear my close family rant about all those filthy political refugees coming from Syria to take over Eastern Europe, but fail to see that I and half of our own family emigrated from Romania due to political (the weak, of course) or economic (the greedy) reasons… we too are refugees, we were just fortunate enough to leave our country without fearing for our lives.
I only decided to write about this when the number of emigrants who were ranting about immigrants became too high to discuss it with each of them in person. So, sadly you are not alone.
We must not give up however, for this inhuman and in this case also illogical stand must not be allowed to be accepted as one of several legitimate opinions. It’s long-term work, but when we see xenophobia or racism, we must call it that. I have probably lost friends for calling them racists in the past few weeks, but at least I now know what kind of people they always were. My life is better off without them.
Refreshingly sharp piece.
In Poland there is a common proverb describing things hard to understand:
“If you don’t know why something happens, it must be money”.
I am not trying to defend immigration sceptical countries, but each country has his own history.
Politics of the country is under high influence of that history.
We talk about last 60-80 years back.
Polish (and other central-eastern Europe countries) history of last 80 years is very stormy. Only last 20-15 years can be considered as relatively stable.
In that case is very hard to compare German politics and for instance Polish.
“We have our poor people, we don’t need more” will say a first one on a street.
On the other hand Germany, wealthy state, with history that wants “forgiveness for sins”.
Poland, Germany, neighbors, but how different is the story.
We can write a book or a few on that topic.
Generalization of the problem will not help here.
It’s 2015. I don’t think anyone in parliament or government in Germany now seeks “forgiveness for sins”.
I don’t think so either. The intention of my reply was to underscore difference between Western and Eastern country society in general.
I mentioned WWII was a very important event of the last century that had influenced people life and behaviour. Empathy was importatant in countries like Germnny after war for many years, and is till now as we see.
On the other sîde is Central-Eastern Europe, forgotten after WWII with almost 50 years of unwanted comunism.
The society under comunism works in different way then in democracy.
Such a society is learnd to take care of themselfs.
I think is to much polarity in todays black or white world (good or bad).
We have to understand peoples behaviour and try to teach them something new.
The lack of information creates xenofobic reactions in some of European countreis.
Instead of accusing of rasism and other staff is better to understad why a particular person doesn’t want refugees.
P:S. Please don’t blame ‘us’ for that money transfer. It was not my intention to be born under communist carpet.
Greetings from Hungary
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I wonder what would you write about this subject Andreas now, 4 years later, when the mass migration, Refugees Welcome, “Wir schaffen dass” experiment in Western Europe and Scandinavia have clearly failed, and when it is known that a big percentage of the “refugees” were/are lying about their condition, age, situation etc.
In 2015 for example, when there was this huge wave of migrants sweeping through Hungary, about half of the people who said were from Syria, were actually from Pakistan and other places, with no legit reason for asylum in Europe = they were fake refugees. I know this from a Syrian translator who worked there at the border.
It’s always a good idea to revisit one’s thoughts after several year, but I don’t see such a failure as you describe, nor is there any indication that your claim is true.
The biggest problem for the refugees is, as expected, learning German. But then, learning Hungarian would pose a much higher hurdle.
No any indication? So these incidents are not true – or you think they are alright? https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/13726/multiculturalism-germany-january
And there are many other similar ones in France, Sweden etc: church and car burnings, bombings, honor crimes, gang rapes…
We don’t have any of these here in Central Europe that you are mocking in your post.
Plus, this mass immigration puts an enormous burden on the system in terms of benefits and other social expenses, education, housing and other aspects of integration.
I lived for a year in Stockholm in a suburb that is now a no-go zone, my son went to school to another one and I could tell you some stories of not really nice experiences.
One outrageous example is Sweden where they keep raising taxes, in order to finance economic migrants whose 90% are known to have lied about their age (military age, healthy, strong men saying they were minors), so that they would qualify for special benefits.
Or there are countless of other examples: elderly home being shut and converted into accommodation for young, working age migrants on benefits, inhabitants of a small town are told to open their own houses to take such migrants in, Swedish little girls are insulted and called whores in school, for wearing European style clothes, a new word exist for those Muslim girls who jump out of the balcony, escaping from being killed by their family – the list is endless. In Germany too, you do have honor killing, which is a new phenomenon in the past few decades only, and certainly not a European one.
Again, we don’t have this either, here in Central Europe.
You don’t see these as a problem?
Actually, crime rates in Germany are the lowest in 30 years and there was much more terrorism in the 1970s. Even now, most terrorist acts and hate crimes in Germany are committed by right-wing Germans, not by immigrants.
Of course there are incidents. But overall, it’s quite a safe and well-functioning country, as most people living there can attest to. Just visit and check it out!