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George Soros Turns 90: Interview Reveals His Thoughts on the Pandemic, Orbán, and the EU

Róbert Panyi 2020.08.13.

Hungarian-American investor and philanthropist George Soros turned 90 on Wednesday. The billionaire is still full of energy despite his age. He shared his thoughts on the most pressing issues of our times in an interview with Népszava where he detailed his opinion about the coronavirus crisis, Viktor Orbán, and the future of the EU.

Népszava asked Soros about his thoughts on the economy, the impact of the pandemic, and the future of liberalism. He called the coronavirus pandemic the most serious crisis since WWII. “People have become confused and scared which makes them do things that are harmful for themselves and the world at large,” he added. The pandemic has resulted in the erosion of the idea of “open societies,” as surveillance technologies – now helping limit the spread of the pandemic – have become more widely accepted around the world.

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He went on to evaluate the way in which different regions have been affected by the pandemic. “I believe the EU is much more vulnerable [politically] than the USA.” The US is one of the oldest democracies in the world, with a system of checks and balances. Even though Trump has been trying to erode democratic institutions and the system of accountability, the US is going to survive his presidency, he said. He hopes that the Trump presidency ends in November, and the US returns “back to normal.” “The EU is in a much more vulnerable position, as it is not a fully developed formation. It has a number of enemies both within and without,” he added.

Fact

George Soros is one of the most controversial investors alive. He earned the title of “The Man Who Broke the Bank of England” for being responsible for the 1992 Black Wednesday UK currency crisis that resulted in him making a £1 billion profit. He is also a philanthropist who has donated a total of $32 billion to further the cause of an “open society” and promote liberal ideas. More recently, his activities have inspired a variety of conspiracy theories which concern him greatly. These conspiracy theories include accusations that he wants to extinguish Christianity and that he is the puppet master secretly controlling the price of US stocks on the market. While most of these theories have been proven to be wrong, he does engage in politically divisive activities, including the support of more relaxed immigration policies in the EU.

When asked about his views on the “internal enemies of the EU,” he said that a growing number of political leaders has begun to oppose the ideals upon which the EU was established. “In Orbán’s Hungary and Kaczynski’s Poland, these forces have basically occupied the nation. This happened in an environment where these two nations are amongst those benefitting the most from the EU’s funds. However, I am most worried about Italy, where support for EU institutions and the euro as a currency continues to decline. As one of the biggest states of the Union, Italy is indispensable for the EU – I cannot imagine an EU without Italy.” He believes that the fate of Italy – and thus the fate of the EU – depends on whether the EU is willing to provide the necessary financial support for Italy after the coronavirus crisis.

Among the external enemies of the EU, he mentioned China as the most outstanding one. He claims that China is the single most important player threatening open societies today. Nothing proves this better than the bipartisan consensus in the USA on China’s position as a strategic rival.

Featured photo by Olivier Hoslet/EPA/MTI