Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

Soros-backed foundation leaving Hungary

Soros-backed foundation leaving Hungary

Open Society Foundations is closing its operations in Hungary and moving staff to Berlin, citing an increasingly repressive political and legal environment and security concerns.

Orban, who won a landslide election victory last month, has repeatedly accused Soros and his organization of encouraging migrants and undermining national culture.

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

Hitting out at the proposals, which would tax foreign NGO income and clamp down on so-called civil society efforts to promote illegal immigration, OSF President Patrick Gaspard blasted Budapest for "using tactics unprecedented in the history of the European Union" to "denigrate" and "repress" the group's work. Soros, who was born in Hungary in 1930 and later survived the Nazi Holocaust before emigrating to the United States, and his foundation have been the target of harsh criticism from Hungary's strongman Orban and his right-wing nationalist government. The law was termed the "Stop Soros" bill.

Note that Orban is a big critic of Soros.

OSF spokesman Daniel Makonnen said staff in the Budapest office were being spied on and threatened. According to a spokesperson for OSF, the organization will continue to operate in Hungary, supporting local groups doing work on fundamental rights advocacy. The bill says that all NGOs which "support illegal immigration" need to be registered, while any NGO which gets money from overseas must pay a 25-percent tax.

Another Soros institution funded by Soros, Budapest's Central European University, may also be forced to shutter operations in Hungary.

The CEU - which plans to open a satellite campus in Vienna - has agreed a deal with a U.S. college to meet new conditions imposed by Hungary, but the government is yet to approve the agreement. Open Society Foundations said Tuesday that it would seek legal routes to challenge the new legislation.

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