Goran Buldioski, director of the Open Society Initiative for Europe published an op-ed about the situation of NGOs and the rule of law in Poland and Hungary on EUObserver, entitled “EU must confront Poland and Hungary”. Meanwhile, George Soros voiced his concerns in a video message.
According to Buldioski, “citizens of Hungary and Poland find they are being prevented from freely expressing their opinions through non-governmental organisations (NGOs)”. “The Hungarian government said the law on foreign funding will improve transparency, combat money laundering and terrorist financing without providing any evidence of links to terrorists or financial irregularity by NGOs”, he recalled, adding that “the law is already helping the ruling Fidesz party’s consolidation of power and silencing of dissent”.
“Prime minister Orban, running a permanent political campaign, next targeted the Hungarian-born investor and philanthropist George Soros and the Open Society Foundations,” he wrote. According to Buldiovski, Soros has been “personally vilified and subjected to an expensive media campaign which combines anti-Muslim bigotry with deep antisemitic hatred”.
“These fully-fledged EU member states are not illiberal democracies, they are ill democracies. Countries that deliberately interfere with civil society undermine pluralism and flirt with authoritarianism. Given current political circumstances, the actions of the European Union and its Commission will be insufficient. Across the continent, democratic governments and competitive entrepreneurs alike should be concerned as nationalist populists are unlikely to stop at curtailing civil society. They are already tearing apart the common market and the rule of law that Europeans value the most. It is not too late, Poland must be dissuaded from traveling down the same dangerous path Hungary has already taken. Stopping the abuse of NGOs is more than just a symbolic step in that direction”, he concluded.
George Soros denounced the Hungarian government’s national consultation on the “Soros plan”, which according to him deliberately misrepresents his views on migration. The millionaire’s video message was aired in RTL Klub’s news programme on Tuesday evening.