The foundation funded by billionaire George Soros will continue to work in Hungary despite a pledge by the ruling party of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a past recipient of a scholarship from the philanthropist, to crack down on the group after Donald Trump takes office.
The Open Society Foundations responded to a pledge on Tuesday by Orban’s ruling Fidesz party to “sweep out” the non-governmental organizations funded by the Hungarian-born financier. The group, which finances over 60 Hungarian NGOs, has spent more than $1.6 billion on democratic development in eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.
“The Open Society Foundations will continue to work in Hungary despite government opposition to our mission of fairer, accountable societies,”’ the organization’s president, Christopher Stone, said in an e-mail to Bloomberg News on Wednesday. “In Hungary and around the world we are more focused than ever on working with local groups to strengthen democratic practice, rights, and justice.”
Orban, the first European leader to publicly back Trump’s campaign, has ignored criticism from the European Commission and U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration for building a self-described “illiberal state” modeled on authoritarian regimes including Russia, China and Turkey. In 2014, Orban said civil society groups financed from abroad were covers for “paid political activists,” and lawmakers will start debating a bill this year to let authorities audit NGO executives, according to parliament’s legislative agenda. (Click to Article)