Soros fund quits Hungary over government's 'repressive' policies
- Author: Ryan Wade May 16, 2018,
May 16, 2018, 12:41
"Faced with an increasingly repressive political and legal environment in Hungary, the Open Society Foundations are moving their Budapest-based worldwide operations and staff to the German capital, Berlin", the group said in a statement. The step raises the stakes in Prime Minister Viktor Orban's standoff with the European Union as he seeks to complete a break with liberal democracy after winning a third consecutive term in elections last month.
Soros' Open Society Foundations is shifting local staff to Berlin, the group said in a statement Tuesday.
Patrick Gaspard, president of the charity set up by the Hungarian-born billionaire, 87, said: "The government of Hungary has denigrated and misrepresented our work and repressed civil society for the sake of political gain, using tactics unprecedented in the history of the European Union".
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The government's hate campaign has included propaganda posters and billboards, invoking anti-Semitic imagery from World War II, and a supposed "national consultation" attacking George Soros, founder and chair of the Open Society Foundations, and Hungarian human rights groups. He has proposed what is commonly referred to as a "Stop Soros" law, aimed at penalizing nongovernmental agencies that assist asylum seekers and refugees.
The prime minister views Soros as an intruder into the country's domestic politics, which are more and more being painted by Europe's growing 2015 migrant crisis.
Soros has remarked that the Hungarian government was attempting to slander him by pushing "distortions and lies".
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Critics say Orban has used his long tenure to systematically eliminate the free media and slide the country towards autocracy.
The pro-democracy group said it was pulling out a day after the right-wing government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced it would tighten restrictions on non-governmental organizations, under a law dubbed the "Stop Soros " bill. 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.
"Orban is now trying to elevate the conservative revolution in Europe. and they believe this is going to strengthen Hungary's position in Europe", said Balazs Jarabik, non-resident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
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Also, foreign citizens and Hungarian nationals who support illegal immigration could be subject to a restraining order which would keep them away from the border.