Soros NGO to close Hungary office over law targeting its efforts

George Soros founder and chairman of the Open Society Foundations before the start of a meeting at EU headquarters in Brussels in 2017

George Soros founder and chairman of the Open Society Foundations before the start of a meeting at EU headquarters in Brussels in 2017

Open Society Foundations will move its global operations in Budapest to Berlin in Germany, according to a press release Tuesday.

The move follows a decision by the Hungarian government to tighten a bill dubbed "Stop Soros" that would restrict the work of Hungarian non-governmental organizations that receive foreign funding. The step raises the stakes in Prime Minister Viktor Orban's standoff with the European Union as he seeks to complete a break with liberal democracy after winning a third consecutive term in elections last month.

Rights groups in Hungary and overseas have denounced the proposals as a way of cracking down on groups critical of the government.

Hungary is simply attempting to stop the millions of Islamic migrants who are leaving the miserable economic conditions of the Middle East and North Africa, drawn by "progressive" open-border policies, from destroying their own culture and security forever, as has happened in Western Europe.

A Hungarian government billboard featuring George Soros, with the words translated to "Don't let George Soros have the last laugh" is seen at a transit stop in Budapest on July 6, 2017.

Soros, through his Open Society Foundations initiative, has pushed for pro-immigration policies attracting the ire of Orban and his supporters.

"It has become impossible to protect the security of our operations and our staff in Hungary from arbitrary government interference", said Patrick Gaspard, OSF president in Tuesday's statement. Orban says Soros is out to undermine Europe's cultural identity while the billionaire has accused him of running a mafia state.

Some Hungarian Jews, in addition to Soros himself, find the campaign anti-Semitic.

OSF said more than 100 OSF staff in Budapest would be affected by the move to Berlin, around 60 percent of whom are Hungarian nationals.

A major foundation funded by liberal philanthropist George Soros is closing its regional headquarters in Hungary, due to what it calls "an increasingly repressive political and legal environment" under prime minister Viktor Orban. Zovacs studied at the Central European University, a school Soros helped fund.

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