The Hungarian government announced early Thursday plans for a national consultation on what it alleges is Hungarian-born Jewish financier George Soros’ plan to bring a million migrants into Europe.
Soros has been the target of constant criticism from the authorities in Budapest, who say that the 87-year old philanthropist is trying to destabilize their country, change its ethnic composition, and meddle in its internal politics.
“Now if we speak about the future of Europe, we must first state in no uncertain terms that in order for Europe to be able to survive and remain the Europeans’ continent, the European Union must regain its sovereignty from the Soros Empire,” Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in a speech on July 22.
“However much of a taboo one is breaking by saying it, there is no cultural identity in a population without a stable ethnic composition. The alteration of a country’s ethnic makeup amounts to an alteration of its cultural identity,” he said.
Earlier this summer, the Hungarian government financed a nationwide billboard campaign featuring Soros, under the heading “Don’t let Soros have the last laugh.” The campaign raised concerns among some Hungarian Jews that the government is appealing to long-standing conspiracies and prejudices against Jews.
The national consultation will likely entail a public information campaign, financed by the Hungarian state, and questionnaires that will be mailed to each Hungarian citizen.
Hungary will hold parliamentary elections in the spring, and many observers believe that the Orban government preoccupation with Soros— his name is mentioned by officials daily— is part of a campaign strategy.
In a statement issued after Orban’s announcement, an official of the Open Societies Foundations, Soros’ primary philanthropy for his civic society initiatives, said, “The challenges on migration faced at the moment have nothing to do with George Soros and the Open Society Foundations. Those are issues that international organizations and supranational entities, like the United Nations and the European Union, are dealing with. Hungary is part of these institutions. There is no such thing as a global conspiracy against Hungary.”
The official, Goran Buldioski, who is director of the Open Society Initiatives for Europe, described Orban’s move as “an attempt to distract from pressing domestic challenges like failed delivery of basic health care services, difficulties in education, under-development in rural areas.”
In numerous countries, Soros’ OSF supports private not-for-profit groups promoting independent journalism, fighting corruption and opposing discrimination. But Buldioski also acknowledged, “The truth is that Mr. Soros and the Open Society Foundations have long advocated for more coherent and humane policies for helping to resettle migrants fleeing oppression and violence in their homelands. We will continue to do so.”
Staff writer Larry Cohler-Esses reported from New York. Lili Bayer reported from Budapest.