Open Society Foundations Withdraws Hungary After Orban's 'Repressive' Anti-Soros Crackdown

15 May, 2018, 22:24 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • Hungarian army officers stand at the Serbian Hungarian border as a Syrian refugee women crosses near Roszke southern Hungary Saturday Sept. 12 2015

The George Soros Foundation closes its office in Budapest, moving it to Berlin to get away from the "increasingly repressive political and legal environment" in Hungary, according to "Voice of America" with reference to the statement of the Fund.

The Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, whose popularity is based in particular on its tough policy towards Muslim migrants, declared Soros an enemy of Hungary.

As well as bemoaning "burdensome" transparency requirements on funding from overseas, the group registered its particular anger over measures in the package invoking national security interests, such as rules which would require NGOs working with asylum seekers to be licensed by the government.

OSF said it would continue to support civil society groups in Hungary, but beneficiaries of its grants such as the Hungarian Helsinki Committee expressed concern that they too might come under heavier political and legal pressure.

Government pressure shows no sign of easing, however: Mr Orban said recently that he would not "shed crocodile tears" over the OSF, and he backed a pro-government magazine's publication of a list of more than 200 Hungarian NGO staff, academics and journalists whom it called "Soros mercenaries".

Soros has remarked that the Hungarian government was attempting to slander him by pushing "distortions and lies".

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Opposition and rights groups have long said that a departure of the OSF would mark a milestone in a slide towards authoritarian rule in Hungary and go against the principles of the European Union - a charge dismissed by the government.

Before the election, Orban's political campaign vilified Soros, and his activity supporting civil society, on billboards nationwide.

George Soros, founder and chairman of the Open Society Foundation, waits for the start of a meeting at European Union headquarters in Brussels on April 27, 2017.

The government has repeatedly denied this.

The bill already allows the interior minister to ban NGOs active in the immigration field that he deems to pose a "national security risk", and it imposes a 25 percent tax on foreign donations to NGOs that back migration.

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