Soros NGO to close Hungary office over law targeting its efforts

Adjust Comment Print

The Central European University, a graduate school started by USA billionaire George Soros, said yesterday it would stay in Hungary's capital despite a decision by its founder's foundation to leave.

The 54-year-old premier, reelected for a third consecutive term last month, has long accused Soros of orchestrating immigration into Europe.

Open Society said it would continue to support the work of civil society groups in Hungary on issues such as human rights, arts and culture, media freedom, transparency, and education and health care.

The group based its decision on the fact that Budapest "prepares to impose further restrictions on nongovernmental organizations through what it has branded its "Stop Soros" package of legislation".

The proposals include a special tax on such NGOs, secret service surveillance of their staff, and a ban on any individuals deemed to be involved in "illegal immigration" from Hungary and its border zones.

Yet Mr Orban, who received a Soros scholarship in 1989, accuses the billionaire financier of plotting to oust him and bring millions of people from the Middle East and Africa to Europe to destroy its nation states and Christian traditions.

Many critics have described Orban's campaign against Soros, a Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor, as anti-Semitic.

The theme of thwarting Soros's alleged efforts to encourage immigration dominated the election campaign during which Orban said some 2,000 "mercenaries" paid by Soros were working in Hungary.

George Soros's Open Society Foundations, which funds dozens of non-governmental organizations around the world, will move its operations and staff from Budapest to Berlin in response to a crackdown by Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Orban is leveraging his recent massive electoral victory to restrict the political influence of NGOs, many of which received millions from Soros, a Hungarian who escaped the country before Nazis invaded.

Central European University, another institution established by Soros in Budapest and also facing government pressure, has previously announced plans for a satellite campus in Vienna.