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Soros Foundation to leave Hungary
16 May 2018, 12:41 | Katrina Lee
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Soros's Open Society Foundations (OSF) organization said it would continue to support human rights work in Hungary as well as projects linked to the arts, media freedom, transparency, education and healthcare, but that it would move its Budapest-based worldwide operations and staff to Germany.
The decision to move operations out of Budapest comes as the Hungarian government prepares to impose further restrictions on nongovernmental organizations through what it has branded its "Stop Soros" package of legislation.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban has repeatedly spoken out against the detrimental agendas of Soros' foundation and other NGOs, accusing the billionaire of meddling in Hungary's internal political affairs by funding opposition groups.
Soros' Open Society Foundations is shifting local staff to Berlin, the group said in a statement Tuesday.
Patrick Gaspard, the OSF's president, mentioned the federal government has "denigrated and misrepresented our work and repressed civil society for the sake of political achieve, utilizing techniques unprecedented within the historical past of the European Union".
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has blamed Soros, a Hungarian-born USA financier, for a host of ills and is planning to tighten a crackdown on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) under legislation dubbed the "Stop Soros" bill.
Open Society Foundations, the George Soros backed organization that has helped create the economic migrant crisis in Europe, is leaving the Central European nation of Hungary, declaring it can not "protect its employees from government".
This included criticizing the migration of influx of Muslim migrants into Europe and attacking forces that Orban believed were trying to push a pro-immigration agenda, including Soros.
The "Stop Soros" package was "one of the most important questions of the election, Hungarians voted for it... what we said we would do, we will do", Orban said Monday on a visit to Warsaw.
The OSF said the campaign had "invoked anti-Semitic imagery from World War Two", a charge denied by the government.
Critics say Orban has used his long tenure to systematically eliminate the free media and slide the country towards autocracy.
Soros launched his first foundation in Hungary in 1984, using it to promote freedom of expression during the last years of Communism, the OSF said. The Hungarian government opposes the Open Society's open immigration policies.
As hundreds of thousands of people streamed through Hungary bound for Western Europe and with Budapest train stations resembling squalid refugee camps, Orban erected a fence on Hungary's border with Serbia.
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