The opposition Liberal Party is turning to the Constitutional Court and Hungary’s ombudsman for fundamental rights over a declaration adopted by the municipal assembly of Pécs last week protesting the establishment of an NGO office that the body’s Fidesz politicians claimed was a “Soros campaign centre” in the southern Hungarian city.
Liberal leader Gábor Fodor also slammed a letter Kaposvár Mayor Károly Szita had sent to his colleagues, “urging them to resist US financier George Soros’s opening offices for NGOs in various cities across Hungary”.
If there is a clampdown on civil groups, it will result in weakened democratic controls, Fodor said, objecting to what he saw as efforts to demonize a civil society group.
The NGO in question, Az Emberség Erejével Alapítvány (With the Power of Humanity Foundation), is a group that focuses on providing aid to Pécs’ Roma community, many of whose members live in extreme poverty. According to its own site, the group, which has come under Fidesz attack due to the fact that it receives money from the Open Society Foundation, a group founded by Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros. The group, according to its own site, works “to promote human rights and solidarity. The NGO’s main goal is strengthening social inclusion with the support of oppressed, marginalized groups and the sensitization of the ‘majority’.” In particular, the Foundation provides programs such as the following:
For children there is learning support, educational projects, workshops (sports, media, arts and crafts, etc.), free-time programs, camps and different kind of adventures, which their parents cannot buy for them. All programs are based on non-formal learning and learning by doing. For the parents and other adults, community building process has been started in 2015, with free-time programs, regular meetings, personal mentoring, identification of community issues and supported advocacy.
Fidesz reacted to Fodor’s letter by claiming that that the Liberals “are again standing up for George Soros”. In a statement, the party said Fodor was “one of the opposition politicians who have been attacking the government’s migration policy from the beginning”. The right-wing party claimed that Hungarian cities and towns are ‘rightfully wary’ of the “Soros network” and its “pro-migrant policies.”
In this, Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party appears to have been attempting to tie a group dedicated to providing aid to disadvantaged children to its ongoing campaign against George Soros, including its recently concluded “national consultation” on the so-called “Soros Plan.”
As we have previously reported, the ‘national consultation’ itself, which was promoted through a widespread state billboard and television campaign under the aegis of “Government Information”, claimed that a so-called “Soros plan” exists, and called on Hungarians to “express their opinions” on it.
According to the questionnaire, the latest salvo in the Orbán government’s ongoing attempts to portray George Soros as the enemy of the Hungarian people, the financier has a secret ‘plan’ to bring in millions of refugees into the EU, to dismantle border fences, and to, in general, aid migrants at the expense of Europeans. The current campaign is the second in the past several months to feature Soros: over the summer, a government billboard campaign warning the public not “to let Soros have the last laugh” was plastered throughout the country, despite Jewish groups’ concerns over the billboards’ potential for stirring up anti-Semitic sentiment.
These accusations are based on various op-eds and essays that Soros has written. Despite the Hungarian government’s claims, however, the influential billionaire has himself published a point by point refutation of the claims made in the survey, which he described as containing
Distortions and outright lies.
Likewise, Hungarian EU Commissioner Tibor Navracsics, who is himself a member of the ruling Fidesz Party, has described the Orbán government’s claims of a “Soros Plan” as being nothing more than “an element of the rhetoric of the upcoming  election campaign.”
Via MTI, Hungary Matters, emberseg.hu, and index.hu
Image via Baumann Róbert / Emberség Erejével Alapítvány
Video via YouTube