István Hollik, an MP of the co-ruling Christian Democrats, on Tuesday slammed the Momentum Movement’s signature drive to hold a referendum on the law on the transparency of non-governmental organisations, dismissing it as “nothing but another operation from team Soros”.
Hungary’s Supreme Court, the Kúria, approved a referendum bid on the NGO transparency law two weeks ago, overriding the National Election Committee’s July decision to reject it.
Speaking at a press conference in front of an opposition signature collection stand, Hollik said that 53 NGOs have already complied with the law requiring civil groups to register with a court as foreign-backed groups once their foreign donations reach 7.2 million forints (EUR 23,000) in a year.
Not a single one of the NGOs that have registered has indicated that they consider the law to be “pestering” or that it would make their continued operations impossible, Hollik insisted.
He said that by collecting signatures for a referendum, “team Soros” was “going against the will of the Hungarian people”, arguing that the NGO transparency law was backed by an overwhelming majority of voters in the government’s last “National Consultation” survey earlier this year.
“The will of the Hungarian people is clear,” Hollik said, arguing that Hungarians wanted to know which civil groups operating in Hungary receive significant financial backing from abroad.
He argued that the law was necessary because NGOs financed from abroad “play a key role in supporting migration and the attacks being mounted against Hungary”. “The Soros organisations are also there in Brussels levelling accusations at us when they are planning hearings against Hungary,” Hollik said, noting that the next hearing about Hungary in the European Parliament is scheduled for December 7.
Momentum deputy leader Tamás Soproni later appeared at the press conference and called it “outrageous” that the government had launched billboard campaigns costing billions of forints.
He challenged Hollik to a debate and asked him whether the referendum would be held if the opposition gathers the required 200,000 supporting signatures.
The law on the transparency of foreign-funded NGOs was passed by Hungary’s parliament in June. European Union funds do not count towards the 7.2 million forint threshold. The European Commission has launched an infringement procedure against Hungary over the law.