June 19, 2020 / 9:33 AM / 16 days ago

Civil organisations will have to disclose foreign funds - Hungary PM Orban

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - NGOs involved in Hungarian politics will still have to disclose their foreign donors, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday, after the European Union’s top court said Hungary’s stance on overseas funding violated EU law.

FILE PHOTO: Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban is welcomed by Czech Republic's Prime Minister Andrej Babis as he arrives at the summit of the Visegrad Group (V4) countries at Lednice Chateau, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in the village of Lednice, Czech Republic, June 11, 2020. REUTERS/David W Cerny

The Hungarian legislation was part of measures taken by Orban’s government against what it sees as unfair foreign influence, linked to its disagreements with U.S. billionaire George Soros, who was born in Budapest.

Orban has accused non-governmental organizations (NGOs) funded by Soros of political meddling. Soros has rejected the accusations, saying they are “distortions and lies” meant to create a false external enemy to distract Hungarians.

On Friday, reacting to the EU court ruling for the first time, Orban said Hungary would respect the decision of the court about the funding of civil organisations but transparency rules would have to continue to apply.

“All Hungarians will know about every and each forint worth of funding sent here from abroad for political purposes,” he told state radio. “It wont be difficult to adhere to this court ruling.” He did not go into further detail.

Nationalist Orban said the court ruling was linked to circles of “liberal imperialism” in western Europe who want to impose their thinking with respect to family, migration on those countries “who think differently” like Hungary.

“International courts are often part of this network,” he said.

Soros, a Hungarian-born Jew who has spent a large part of his fortune funding pro-democracy and human rights groups, has been targeted by Orban’s government repeatedly.

In 2017, Hungary’s government ran an anti-migrant billboard campaign ahead of an election in 2018 depicting a smiling Soros with the caption: “Don’t let Soros have the last laugh.”

The Federation of Hungarian Jewish Federations (Mazsihisz) urged Orban to halt the campaign, and eventually the government ended it. However, it strongly denied that the billboard campaign was anti-Semitic.

Reporting by Krisztina Than in Budapest; Editing by Toby Chopra

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