All civil society organizations financed by billionaire George Soros should be “swept out” of Hungary, the vice chairman of the ruling Fidesz party, Szilard Nemeth, declared.
Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs), such as Transparency International, financed by billionaire George Soros and his Open Society Foundation ought to be banned from operating in Hungary, Nemeth said at a news conference Tuesday, according to Hir TV. The official claimed that Soros and his NGOs were “pushing global big capital and a related political correctness into Hungary.”
“These organizations must be pushed back with all available tools, and I think they must be swept out, and now I believe the international conditions are right for this with the election of the new president [Donald Trump],” said Nemeth.
In September, Nemeth, who is also the deputy chairman of Hungary’s National Security Committee, said he submitted a list of 22 organizations “connected to the Soros network for the purpose of having these organizations screened.”
Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who is the leader of populist right-wing party Fidesz, takes a similarly dim view of Soros’s political activities. In an interview with the internet portal 888.hu in December, Orban said that 2017 would bring “about the extrusion of George Soros and the forces symbolized by him.”
“In every country, they will want to displace Soros,” Orban told journalists. “This can already be seen in Europe. They investigate where the money comes from, what kind of intelligence connections there are, which NGOs represent what interests.”
Hungarian lawmakers are soon set to debate a bill allowing authorities to audit the executives of NGOs, something which is to date reserved to the MPs and public officials in the country. A respective proposal has appeared on the newly published parliamentary agenda for 2017.
But despite this and Nemeth’s statements, the Open Society Foundation, which according to Reuters funds over 60 NGOs in Hungary, has pledged to continue its work in the country.
“The Open Society Foundation will continue to work in Hungary despite government opposition to our mission of fairer, accountable societies,” the organization’s president, Christopher Stone, wrote in an email to Bloomberg. “In Hungary and around the world we are more focused than ever on working with local groups to strengthen democratic practice, rights, and justice.”
The Open Society Foundation was set up by Hungarian-born Soros between the mid-1980s to early 1990s. Orban himself received a grant from one of Soros’ foundations to study politics at Oxford University’s Pembroke College in 1989 (which he has since pledged to repay). Orban has accused Soros of undermining European borders and values by helping facilitate the flow of refugees and asylum seekers from the Middle East and elsewhere.