Tuesday

21st Nov 2017

Soros-linked NGOs defy Orban purge

Hungarian NGOs funded by philanthropist George Soros have vowed to defy prime minister Viktor Orban’s plan to “sweep them out” of the country.

The Hungarian Helsinki Committee was one of several which said on Wednesday (12 January) that the planned purge was “unacceptable”.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The Helsinki group’s co-chair, Andras Kristof Kadar, told the ATV broadcaster that its work was non-political and designed to defend UN norms.

“When we criticise the government’s position on migration, then we want to hold the government accountable to the Geneva Convention and relevant EU norms,” he said.

The Soros-chaired Open Society Foundations (OSF), which is based in New York and which funds over 60 Hungarian NGOs, also vowed to defy Orban.

“[We] will continue to work in Hungary despite government opposition to our mission of fairer, accountable societies,” the OSF president, Christopher Stone, said on Wednesday.

They spoke out after Orban’s political party, Fidesz, on Tuesday said that the state would use “all tools at its disposal” to “sweep out” Soros-linked groups.

Soros, a Hungarian-born financier who lives in New York, has spent more than $1.6 billion promoting democratic development in central Europe.

The 86-year old survived the persecution of Jews in Hungary and fled the then communist country in 1947.

He used to work with Fidesz when it was an anti-communist party in the 1980s and a Soros scholarship even paid for Orban to go to Oxford University in 1989.

But Orban, now a self-proclaimed “illiberal”, clashed with civil society, as well as with the EU and the US, after he began to impose curbs on free press and on constitutional checks and balances.

He has also clashed with NGOs and with the EU on immigration, while accusing Soros of representing “intelligence connections” and of "organising refugee streams”.

The Fidesz party’s vice-chairman, Szilard Nemeth, said on Tuesday that the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, and Transparency International were among Soros-linked NGOs that had to go.

Trump effect

He also said that the purge was made possible by “an international opportunity”, alluding to the election of Donald Trump in the US.

Trump and Soros are also on bad terms, with Orban now expecting to get an easier ride from Washington.

Trump in a campaign ad called Soros part of “a global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions” that had robbed the working classes, while Soros has called Trump a “con artist” and a “would-be dictator”.

Orban was the first EU leader to welcome Trump’s election and has cultivated ties with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The Orban crackdown on NGOs began in earnest in 2014 whenhe expelled entities funded by the Norway Grants .

In a similar move, Putin designated the OSF as an “undesirable” foreign entity that threatened Russia’s security one year later.

Democracy crisis

The Russian leader will visit Budapest on 2 February, just two years after his last trip there.

Soros wrote in a recent opinion article that “democracy is now in crisis" in Europe.

"With economic growth lagging and the refugee crisis out of control, the EU is on the verge of breakdown and is set to undergo an experience similar to that of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s,” he warned.

Soros to EU: Help 'new Ukraine' against 'new Russia'

US philanthropist George Soros has said the EU needs to support "new Ukraine" in its struggle against Putin's "new Russia". His words came as Ukraine's President ended a unilateral ceasefire with separatists in the east of the country.

Soros tells EU to step up support for eastern states

Billionaire investor George Soros has said the European Union must do more to help its struggling eastern region, including a fast-tracking of member state applications to join the euro currency.

Interview

Polish government in bid to defund NGOs

Ruling Law and Justice has promised to overhaul the NGO sector. The move could strain relations with Norway, a major donor to Polish civic life.

Croatia and Hungary are 'new face of corruption'

Transparency International said the crackdown on civil society in Croatia and Hungary "under the guise of a nationalist, ‘illiberal’ agenda" represented the new face of corruption in Europe.

News in Brief

  1. European Banking Authority will move to Paris
  2. EU court threatens daily fine over Polish forest logging
  3. EU medicines agency will move to Milan or Amsterdam
  4. Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Milan in next round of EMA vote
  5. Three countries pull out of medicines agency Brexit race
  6. Schulz calls for new German elections
  7. EU Commission 'confident' on German stability
  8. EU adopts new border check rules

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Bio-Based IndustriesBio-Based Industries: European Growth is in Our Nature!
  2. Dialogue PlatformErdogan's Most Vulnerable Victims: Women and Children
  3. UNICEFEuropean Parliament Marks World Children's Day by Launching Dialogue With Children
  4. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  5. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic countries prioritise fossil fuel subsidy reform
  7. Mission of China to the EUNew era for China brings new opportunities to all
  8. ACCASmall and Medium Sized Practices Must 'Offer the Whole Package'
  9. UNICEFAhead of the African Union - EU Summit, Survey Highlights Impact of Conflict on Education
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Calls for Closer Co-Operation on Foreign Policy
  11. Swedish EnterprisesTrilogue Negotiations - Striking the Balance Between Transparency and Efficiency
  12. Access EuropeProspects for US-EU Relations Under the Trump Administration - 28 November 2017