The Open Society Foundations (OSF) has announced its decision to move its Budapest-based international operations and staff to Germany. The NGO blamed “increasingly repressive political and legal environment” in Hungary.
The decision comes as the Hungarian government prepares to impose further restrictions on NGOs through what it has branded its “Stop Soros” package of legislation.
Founded by Hungarian-born American billionaire George Soros, the president of OSF, Patrick Gaspard, explained the decision to move in a press release on May 15.
“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,” said Gaspard. “The so-called Stop Soros package of laws is only the latest in a series of such attempts. It has become impossible to protect the security of our operations and our staff in Hungary from arbitrary government interference.”
As reported by the BBC, Prime Minister Viktor Orban successfully campaigned under a “Stop Soros” banner during the election.
Orban has accused Soros’ foundation is part of a plan to bring migrants to Europe in order to undermine nation states. Soros has repeatedly denied these claims.
According to reports in the media, Soros, 87, has spent €10bn, mostly through OSF, on civil initiatives to reduce poverty and increase transparency, and on scholarships and universities around the world, especially in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, since the 1980s.
Meanwhile, Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, noted that the Central European University, a Soros-backed graduate school, will remain in Budapest.