The demonized Open Society Foundations to leave Hungary

After investing $400 million in Hungary since 1994, the Open Society Foundations of George Soros have announced that they are closing their offices in Budapest and are relocating to Berlin. The decision comes on the heels of a relentless anti-Soros campaign on the part of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government, the highly controversial publication of a list of so-called Hungarian “Soros mercenaries” by government propaganda site Origo, the expected passing of the “Stop Soros” bill currently before Parliament and comments by the prime minister on Good Friday about how Hungarian national security authorities are tracking, by name, some 2,000 enemies of the state.

Open Society Foundations employed 100 staff members in Budapest (60% Hungarian) when it announced the closure of its offices this week. Over the past two and a half decades, these foundations have engaged in wide-ranging anti-poverty initiatives in Hungary. For instance, in the nineties, Mr. Soros’ foundations dedicated $5 million to provide Hungarian elementary school children with free breakfasts. The foundations recognized that Hungarian families were struggling as the country transitioned to capitalism. Also in the nineties, the foundations purchased ultrasound scanners for Hungarian hospitals.

Following the worldwide economic crisis of 2008, the foundations made available $8.6 million for anti-poverty initiatives in Hungary, funding 150 different local groups throughout the country.

In 2010, after Viktor Orbán returned to power, the Soros foundations provided $1 million to help decontaminate the Danube and other waterways following Hungary’s red sludge environmental catastrophe.

Open Society Foundations funding in Hungary

As some of our readers will know, Mr. Soros was already active in Hungary in the dying years of the Kádár regime and played a critical role in supporting pro-democracy activists, including the young Viktor Orbán. In fact, starting in 1985, foundations associated with Mr. Soros spent $4.4 million buying equipment and supplies (particularly photocopiers) for Hungarian libraries, hospitals and other public institutions.

Mr. Soros’ greatest investment in post-communist Hungary was the establishment of Central European University in Budapest, with an initial injection of $250 million. Central European University, under assault by the Orbán government for over a year, announced this March that it intends to open a campus in Vienna. For now, CEU hopes to come to an agreement with the Orbán government and thus maintain its Budapest campus as well.

Losing the Open Society Foundations is a blow to Hungary and particularly to Hungarian civil society–though hardly surprising given the way in which the Hungarian government has demonized George Soros for the past two years.

The plan is to close down the Foundations’ offices in Budapest in August 2018. Initially, the organization will move to Vienna and then eventually to Berlin.

34 Comments

  1. Robert Morrison says:

    What a loss. I will cry myself to sleep tonight.
    It would be nice to see CEU follow it soon.

    • Hungarian Free Press says:

      The Budapest economy, which benefits from the presence of 15,000 students (mostly foreigners) who rent apartments, spend money in restaurants and shops would disagree with you. The Hungarian central budget, which also benefits through CEU payroll at source deductions will also feel the impact if CEU closes. Your primal hatred is making you brutish and illogical.

      • Robert Morrison says:

        Yes, thank you for confirming that.
        I learnt it from the left. It looks that I am a good student.

        On a more serious note, I could agree with you on the economic advantage of the CEU being in Budapest. And I wish that the institution could be viewed as a great educational institute, but the reality is that it looks like a highly organized liberal boot camp.

        • Marton Egressy says:

          Robert, you are a fascist. CEU is one of the most respected universities in Europe – fact. Are you on Orban’s payroll too? You are just a troll…

        • Pityi Palkó says:

          Robert Morrison – Please explain to us what core problems you see in liberalism, when liberalism is mostly to do with freedom of thought and openness to change ?

          • Robert Morrison says:

            Pityi Palkó on April 20, 2018 at 10:44 pm

            “Robert Morrison – Please explain to us what core problems you see in liberalism, when liberalism is mostly to do with freedom of thought and openness to change?”
            In short form… nothing. I am as liberal as it gets. I believe in the freedom of individuals without ideological alliance. And this is where our current problem starts. The so called liberals are in reality not liberals at all. They just use the adjective but in fact they are paradigm pushers. The far left hijacked the liberal label and reformatted the original idea to suit their agenda. Liberalism in my mind is an ideology free state of mind in which you are granted absolute freedom that is only limited by the freedom of others and not by your party affiliation. I trust that you understand this.

          • Pityi Palkó says:

            Robert Morrison April 21, 2018 at 2:30 am

            ‘The so called liberals are in reality not liberals at all. They just use the adjective but in fact they are paradigm pushers.’

            Should this be the case what you say about the so called liberals, would you agree that they at least should be praised for their efforts in trying to advance the liberal model of government worldwide

      • Canadian hoping Mikey Iggy stays in Europe says:

        You ignore how much it costs the Hungarian taxpayers to support illegal migrants with no employment skills and no language knowledge. So just ignore the cost factors and bellow about how students – most of whom are on scholarships – bring wealth to the country. Absurdity inevitably falls in love with its own odors and its brain stalls in self-love.

  2. I honestly can not see, why these two guys, Orban and Soros could not work out their differences in a face to face meeting long ago. They made it a personal war, and one side lost. To me, it demonstrated their own stupidity.

  3. StrandedinSopron says:

    “What a loss. I will cry myself to sleep tonight.”

    Well, as is often in these cases the human cost behind the headline is not apparent.

    OSF in Budapest employs 60-70 Hungarians, the vast majority of whom are not working on dismantling the Orbanist state or, indeed, *White Christian* Europe. They are accountants, financial experts, lawyers, translaters, drivers, cleaners, handymen (Soros may be all-powerful in the eyes of Fidesz acolytes but even he hasn’t the ability to unblock a toilet remotely) etc etc.
    In other words, honest Joes trying to earn a crust.

    Now.. the problem with the Orbanist black list in Figyelo…

    So, just to emphasise the point,on that list we had cleaners, handymen, drivers…
    As well as those anti-Magyar satanists looking for an independent media, judiciary, a corruption-free society etc.

    Quite correctly the overall *OSF* management has decided that they can no longer guarantee the personal security of their employees in Budapest and have decided that their work could be better conducted in Vienna and eventually Berlin.

    Which is great for those foreigners working on programs, single Hungarian folk who can’t handle Orbanistan 18.

    But the rest? The cleaners, the drivers, people with family here who need looking after? Those with kids at school?

    Mr Morrison, do you live in Canada or Hungary?

  4. Robert Morrison says:

    StrandedinSopron on April 20, 2018 at 9:26 pm

    “OSF in Budapest employs 60-70 Hungarians, the vast majority of whom are not working on dismantling the Orbanist state or, indeed, *White Christian* Europe.”
    You have two points here:
    1./ It is always sad to see people losing their job. It happened to hundreds of thousands when the socis privatized the complete industrial base of Hungary and for some reason nobody cried foul for those unfortunate souls. Now it is a big deal to see “accountants, financial experts, lawyers, translaters,…” to go on search for a new job.

    2./ When you say that not all of them worked on “dismantling the Orbanist state” you really meant that the others were actively working against the democratically elected government and for that the minimum should have happen to them to lose their job.

    “Quite correctly the overall *OSF* management has decided that they can no longer guarantee the personal security of their employees in Budapest and have decided that their work could be better conducted in Vienna and eventually Berlin.”
    This statement is minimum a mistake but I would rather say it is a lie. Nobody’s personal security was ever in jeopardy. The operation of the OSF is at stake and you could say that it was just a question of time before they would be forced out of Hungary therefore this is a preemptive decision that I must admit is a correct one.

    “The cleaners, the drivers, people with family here who need looking after? Those with kids at school?”
    Life goes on and I am sure the great Philanthropist will make sure they suffer no financial difficulties.

    “Mr Morrison, do you live in Canada or Hungary?”
    Both. I am an expat retiree spending half and half time in each of my Homelands (1 day more in Canada}

  5. Robert Morrison says:

    Chris you are unfair in your moderating. When you allow someone to label me fascist (although he has no idea about the real meaning of the word) than you should not wipe my reply. Just as a measure of equality. After all you claim that you are a liberal and this platform is founded on the liberal ideology, which is Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité. So please stop deleting my comments in the name of liberalism.

  6. StrandedinSopron says:

    Mr Morrison,

    “It happened to hundreds of thousands when the socis privatized the complete industrial base of Hungary and for some reason nobody cried foul for those unfortunate souls.”

    As a genuine socialist, I think it was one of the greatest catastrophes of the the system change. It has led us to where we are today, people voting for a far-right populist (and to a lesser extent, the neo-nazis of Jobbik). People voting for a man on the basis that he “will keep the muslims out” whilst completely

    “When you say that not all of them worked on “dismantling the Orbanist state” you really meant that the others were actively working against the democratically elected government….”

    I was using the tool of “sarcasm” to prove a point. The programs in OSF are wide and diverse: the promotion of Roma, women’s rights; media and judicial independence would be the main focus of the Budapest office. Ironically, they do do not deal directly with the protection of refugees’ rights although, for sure, they do finance other NGOs which do so. Now, if you want to argue that by promoting the concept of media and judicial independence in Hungary they are “directly attacking the Orbanist state”, then I think that says more about the nature of that State than the nefarious motives of OSF.

    “Nobody’s personal security was ever in jeopardy. ”

    Not publicised in the media are the death threats, personal abuse on social media and “strange” phone calls at 3am in the morning. All increased after the publication on the black list in Figyelo last week (what was the point behind Maria Schmidt giving the final OK on that do you think?)
    Next time you are back in Budapest (and if it is still open) try to stroll into the OSF building. Why does a NGO need so much security?

    “The operation of the OSF is at stake and you could say that it was just a question of time before they would be forced out of Hungary therefore this is a preemptive decision that I must admit is a correct one.”
    You admit they have been “forced out”? By whom and why?

    “Life goes on and I am sure the great Philanthropist will make sure they suffer no financial difficulties.”

    Rather a cold and somewhat heartless statement, if I may so.
    Uprooting your family, taking your kids from their school, leaving behind parents, moving away from your homeland. Money is only part of it, as I would hope you would, in your heart if not on here, admit.

    “Both. I am an expat retiree spending half and half time in each of my Homelands (1 day more in Canada}”

    And would your circle of friends, family, acquaintances in Budapest all hold the same opinions as yourself or would there be those who would diverge from the world view of our esteemed PM?

    • I have replied to your comment in a five part series which has never been published. If you want to read ask Chris to send it to you by e-mail or publish it here.

    • or you can send me an e-mail and I will send it to you.

  7. StrandedinSopron says:

    “People voting for a man on the basis that he “will keep the muslims out” whilst completely….”

    Sorry, should read:
    “People voting for a man on the basis that he “will keep the muslims out” whilst completely destroying their social welfare safety net and state hospitals”.

  8. StrandedinSopron says:

    “And I wish that the institution could be viewed as a great educational institute, but the reality is that it looks like a highly organized liberal boot camp.”

    http://www.portfolio.hu/en/economy/ceu-ranked-among-top-100-universities-in-the-world.35647.html

  9. stop fascism says:

    stop Brussels,stop the migrants,stop Soros,stop the UN …who is next ?

  10. It is just a merry go round. They are demonstrating the terrible terror griping Hungary. They will be back in another shape in no time.

  11. I really wonder, those that so clearly identify the slightest problems in Hungary, never even attempt to work on correcting any of it. Just what kind of democratic ideas they believe, when would not practice even the most minute example of it? They Only want to destroy every fabric of the society. That is a fascist dictatorial goal. The international media insists that there was a free and fair election. So, the population has decided. Is that what you oppose ? Or want a one party dictatorship again ?

    P.S.
    NO, it does not mean that I could agree with the method and policies of the present form of government . But have to work within the system!
    And that is legally available.

  12. It looks both Or ban and Soros are deep in love. Only the direction of interaction has taken a 180degrees turn. If they both join a Vipassana meditation for even a few days the animosity could be resolved.

  13. Morrison/The little fascist don’t care about support for the various good causes in Hungary – healthcare, education, innovation etc (see OpenSoc report), neither does the Orban regime as demonstrated in the offensive against the Ecotars et al dispensing the Norwegian/Swiss/Luxemburg funds.
    Unless such funds line their pockets – J.Lazar wanted to control these funds or have them shut down.
    And of course such funds are not allowed to support the (past) endeavors Orban and co had, because this gang assumed power and have no use of free speech, rule of law, democracy and other follies. As Orban admitted he “didn’t fight the communist system, but the people who ran it” and now that he runs a similar system he wants to stop time to enjoy the spoils longer.
    The little fascists here are to beat their tin drums, wave the flag and shout loud from the top of the dump, to earn their 300 silver (inflation factored in).

  14. @ Chris thank you for making all of my comment disappear. Nice free press.

  15. Robert Morrison says:

    StrandedinSopron on April 21, 2018 at 5:18 am

    Dear StrandedinSopron,

    First and foremost let me express my gratitude for your intellectually stimulating comment. It is saddening that people are so blinded that by pushing the paradigm loose their humanity and resort to verbal abuse and label throwing on social networks. As an appreciation of your attitude I return the favor and reply to your comment in a meaningful manner.

    First your last point:
    “And would your circle of friends, family, acquaintances in Budapest all hold the same opinions as yourself ….”
    Contrary to the assumption I have no party affiliation and consider myself an independent free thinker strictly on the principal of Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité into which I bought into in the early 70’s under the Kádár regime, and stayed on course since. Through the decades I resisted every attempts to recruit me into and all temptation to join any organized political groups let it be a party or a union or alike. All my friends know this and they respect my demand that whenever I am in their company there is an absolute ban on political or religious discussion, thus our get-togethers are always pleasant, cultured and enjoyable. I achieved what nobody succeeded before that people whom split and alienated by politics (and are still on opposing sides) regularly join in my group activities and communicate with each other not for the present or the future but for the past friendship. And this is not a small potato as I am talking about 20-35 people at a time.

  16. Robert Morrison says:

    StrandedinSopron on April 21, 2018 at 5:18 am

    “People voting for a man on the basis that he will keep the muslims out”.
    It is a sad moment in the history of Hungarian and the European politics that the people had to revert to self-defense because their ‘representatives’ betrayed them for the ‘thirty pieces of silver’ and put the people of this richest cultural community at harm’s way. What we saw on April 8th in Hungary will be repeated as a tsunami through Europe in the coming years because the balance of life is that against all forces an equally strong opposition develops in time. However the treachery already has an irreversible effect and inevitably will lead to tragic confrontations that will demand the life of many innocent people. This is what the Hungarian voters tried to prevent to spill into our homeland.

  17. Robert Morrison says:

    StrandedinSopron on April 21, 2018 at 5:18 am

    “whilst completely destroying their social welfare safety net and state hospitals”.

    It may look like this but I respectfully disagree with you on the subject.
    As a dual citizen I am also enjoying the benefits of the Hungarian health system (for a reasonably modest monthly contribution) and unfortunately due to my advanced age I had to experience it several times. Since my health doesn’t change miraculously during the flights, I have first-hand experience to compare the two government run systems. Honestly both sucks in one way or the other, and at the same time both has its golden moments, depending on what your needs are. Just to give you an example:
    Part 1.,
    I stepped down form a train and underestimated the depth of the platform causing some excruciating pain to my knee. Next day I went to the emergency and had an xray taken immediately. The verdict was that while there is no significant damage, some minor injury accrued and the cartridge area became inflamed. No surgery or other intrusion needed but at the same time the doc suggested that aging had its toll on my knees and I should do something about it. His recommendation was to get a Hyaluronic acid injection for temporary fix. On return to Canada I visited my family physician and showed him the xray (which I had to pay 500 HUF to put on CD). He referred me to a specialist. This was March 9, 2017. My appointment was scheduled for November 10 (!).
    Part 2.,
    During my next travel to Hungary during the summer 2017 I got an appointment on a one week waiting to one of the most renowned government run hospital the Baleseti Sebészet on Fiumei út and two days later my knee was injected with the Hyaluronic acid injection. I had to pay for the material in the amount of $350 Canadian Dollars, as it was not covered by the health insurance but the treatment was free. A week later I ran after the trolibusz.
    Part 3.,
    On November 10, 2017 the doctor looked at my xray and suggested that I could have a Hyaluronic acid injection that is not covered by OHIP (the health care insurance in Ontario) thus it cost me $400 if I want it. I had no guts to tell him that I already had it done in Hungary just three months ago.

  18. Robert Morrison says:

    StrandedinSopron on April 21, 2018 at 5:18 am

    “The programs in OSF are wide and diverse: the promotion of Roma, women’s rights; media and judicial independence would be the main focus of the Budapest office. Ironically, they do do not deal directly with the protection of refugees’ rights although, for sure, they do finance other NGOs which do so.”

    This NGO system is an attempt to create a secondary government all over the World where the governments are not to the liking of the forces that financing the NGOs. I do not know whether the OSF office in Budapest directly involved in the continuous attempt to get rid of the democratically elected government or not, but as you know the instigators are just as ‘guilty’ than the actual killer. See Gyárfás Tamás in the news. I despise every for of foreign intervention -especially the concentrated military or financial invasion- into the life of a sovereign nation regardless of the justification of such.

  19. Robert Morrison says:

    StrandedinSopron on April 21, 2018 at 5:18 am

    “Not publicised in the media are the death threats, personal abuse on social media and “strange” phone calls at 3am in the morning.”
    Well, this is a grey area. First we cannot be sure that happened, secondly it very likely happened but there is no teeth of these idiotic harassments which cannot be condoned. I guess it is impossible to prevent such in the social media age, which is really unfortunate.

    “All increased after the publication on the black list in Figyelo last week (what was the point behind Maria Schmidt giving the final OK on that do you think?)”
    This is a dirty war, and the only way to stop it to call spade a spade. All foreign influence should come to a complete halt, and all outside forces, including the EU should stop pushing the migrant issue onto Hungary and other non-migrant countries. Nobody has the right to tell me whom I must allow into my house unless my house is forcefully occupied by an interventionist hostile army. Luckily we are not there (yet?)

    “Why does a NGO need so much security?”
    Great question. First I am not sure that they need it at all. Secondly we live in a messed up crazy world and nowadays even a Rossmann store has security that really pissed me off. This is not the kind of life style I wanted for my children and grandchildren. Somewhere we derailed our own life by accepted endless tolerance to violence and crime.

    “You admit they have been “forced out”? By whom and why?”
    Not at all. I guess the founders realized that there is no more room left for them to operate without control by the state as a foreign interest agency and moving it into the Merkel lead Germany provides them unlimited playground.

    “Rather a cold and somewhat heartless statement, if I may so. Uprooting your family, taking your kids from their school, leaving behind parents, moving away from your homeland. Money is only part of it, as I would hope you would, in your heart if not on here, admit.”
    Not at all. I view this as any military placement that effects the families of the soldiers. After all these are solders in a high stake political expedition and they are moved to another base. Simple and no heart has anything to do with it.

    I trust I addressed all of your concerns and we can keep communicating (debating issues) in a civilized manner.

  20. StrandedinSopron says:

    “I guess it is impossible to prevent such in the social media age, which is really unfortunate.”

    and….

    “Not at all. I view this as any military placement that effects the families of the soldiers. ”

    To continue the military analogy, in times of war certain rules of conflict exist (or used to), for example ensuring as least civilian casualties as possible….

    One way to make threats, attacks etc against individuals more difficult is by not printing individuals’ names on a blacklist in a government-sponsored magazine. I fail to see the logic of doing this other than to intimidate or to set people up for attack.

    “All foreign influence should come to a complete halt, and all outside forces, including the EU should stop pushing the migrant issue onto Hungary and other non-migrant countries.”

    Hungary agreed to join the EU and is not kept in it by force.
    If the EU as an organisation of 28 members sets rules which Hungary is unhappy to keep, then there should be a referendum in our country about continuing membership as was the case in the United Kingdom.

    With Orban’s obvious public hatred of much of what the EU stands for, then such a referendum would appear logical.

    • Robert Morrison says:

      StrandedinSopron
      on April 24, 2018 at 9:43 pm

      “Hungary agreed to join the EU and is not kept in it by force. If the EU as an organisation of 28 members sets rules which Hungary is unhappy to keep, then there should be a referendum in our country about continuing membership as was the case in the United Kingdom.”

      Indeed, and according to the leftist paradigm the EU is the safe keeper of the “European values” which are not defined, not specified, not fixed in an intelligible format but can be changed by the will of a few bureaucrats or bought up politicians. The population of Europe has no say in such “values” rather they are the sufferers of the changes. When Hungary joined the EU it was clearly an economical block without political ambitions. Than the rules started to change not for the request of the people but by the manipulation of the big money.

      Unfortunately contrary what you said about “28 members sets rules” it is two or three real power and a lot of outside influence that factually does it. The majority of the EU MPs –the so called representatives of the people- vote in blocks and they never solicit the opinion of the voters they supposed to represent.

      In theory Hungary could leave the organization but at this point it is more realistic to resist and fight the unjust pressure rather than give up and leave or give in and accept. I am sure that the 2019 EU election will be a watershed.

      “With Orban’s obvious public hatred of much of what the EU stands for”
      I disagree with this statement. Orban hates the unilateral EU policy changes that has no public support and he resists what he and many citizens of the country believe is an intrusion into the sovereign internal affairs of Hungary. At least as I see it.

  21. StrandedinSopron says:

    “….but at this point it is more realistic to resist and fight the unjust pressure rather than give up and leave or give in and accept.”

    And what is the definition of “realistic”?

    We need EU money to survive?

  22. Robert Morrison says:

    StrandedinSopron on April 26, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    “And what is the definition of “realistic”?”
    https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/realistic

    “We need EU money to survive?”
    Not to survive, no. To flourish, maybe. But there are priceless values in life one of them is sovereignty and that is not for sale.

  23. StrandedinSopron says:

    Well, then why does Orban continue to stay in the EU?
    If it is not the money?

  24. jehaislescookies says:

    and why en university in Hungary give its courses in …… english !
    what means that colonialism ?!

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