Billionaire investor George Soros announced this week he would be pulling his Open Society Foundations (OSF) out of Hungary and relocating operations to Berlin.
OSF says it is leaving an “increasingly repressive political and legal environment” in Hungary and will continue to support civil society groups there from its new offices in Germany.
The departure of OSF follows intense pressure from the ruling Fidesz Party and Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who won a landslide victory last month after campaigning on his opposition to Soros.
Orban’s rightwing government has a big problem with OSF-funded organization seeking to help migrants enter the country, and Orban has repeatedly warned that Soros’s liberal immigration policies will flood the country with Muslim immigrants and undermine the national culture.
OSF President Patrick Gaspard insists Orban is “misrepresenting” Soros’s work and is “repressing civil society for the sake of political gain, using tactics unprecedented in the history of the EU.”
Perhaps the final straw for OSF in Hungary was the introduction of the “Stop Soros” bill, which would impose crippling taxes on NGOs working with migrants and allow the government to ban any organization it views as a “national security risk.” Lawmakers are expected to approve the bill soon.
Those who support OSF’s work in Hungary and oppose Orban worry OSF’s departure will further cement Orban’s authoritarian-style rule over Hungary. Since coming to power in 2010, the Prime Minister has significantly increased his control over the media and placed allies in control of formerly independent institutions. His opinions on immigrant are not in line with the EU.
Author’s Note: The departure of OSF is a good development, and more countries would do well to push this dangerous and wrong-headed organization out. Soros may be a billionaire, but that does not give him the right to meddle in the politics of other countries. And while I don’t agree with everything Orban stands for, his success in pushing OSF out will certainly benefit the Hungarian people.