Fidesz’s communications director has said Hungarians had the right to information on which NGOs received foreign funding and how much.
István Hollik said in an online briefing on Friday that “this principle will be enforced” while taking into consideration the ruling of the European Court of Justice, adding that it appeared the government would face “another battle”.
He noted the European court had ruled that the 2017 law did not conform to European law, insisting that the ruling was a factor of the influence of financier George Soros.
Hollik defended the law as a way of ensuring that the finances of foreign-funded and domestic NGOs operating in Hungary were transparent.
He said the “Soros network” and the left wing had lobbied vigorously against the law, so the ruling had not come as a surprise. He added that this network wanted to make sure that no one knew how much foreign money NGOs received or from whom because this would reveal what interests they serve.
Hollik said foreign-funded organisations were pressuring national governments to fall in line with their agenda on migration and economic policies, and he accused them of interfering in national elections on a regular basis.
Earlier on Friday, commenting on CJEU’s ruling, PM Viktor Orbán said that western Europe and “the American left” were attempting to apply a form of “liberal imperialism” to “force their worldview onto countries that think differently”. He added that international courts, too, were “often also involved in this network”. Seeing the Hungarians who participate in these rulings, Orbán said, it was “easy to spot the ties” to the “international network” linked to US financier George Soros, which the prime minister called “the western European high command of liberal imperialism”.
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On Thursday,Gergely Gulyás, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office, said that Hungary has always respected the decisions of the CJEU in the past and will do so in the future. Gulyás said the government still needs to examine the ruling in detail but said that it was heartening that the court agreed with the government’s goal of increasing transparency at NGOs so only the tools with which to achieve this need to be changed.
Judit Varga, the justice minister, said the Hungarian government was committed to ensuring the transparency of NGOs. This is the aim of Hungary’s law on the foreign funding of civil groups, she said, adding that Thursday’s ruling had confirmed the law’s legitimacy.
In the featured photo illustration: István Hollik. Photo by Balázs Mohai/MTI