Hungarian state secretary for international communications and relations Zoltán Kovács has told the BBC in an interview that financier George Soros became a political player two decades ago.
Kovács said in the HardTalk interview broadcast on Monday that this was clear from Soros’s own statements as well from the activities of the Open Society Foundation and Project Syndicate, which he said were the main conduits of the billionaire’s ideas about Europe.
Soros’s institutional network wields great power without ever having had an electoral mandate, he added.
NGOs linked to Soros have nothing to do with civil society, he said, adding that civil society is something that is built from the ground up. There are currently 65,000 such organisations in Hungary, he added.
Asked about an allegation by the head of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee NGO concerning harassment by the government, Kovács said the dispute was with a few dozen organisations and had nothing to do with civil groups run by ordinary people.
He said that ever since the migration crisis, the gap between the “western European left-liberal political elite” and voters in European Union member states had grown.
Meanwhile, Kovács denied that the Central European University (CEU) had left Budapest, saying that only one part of the CEU’s activities, which breached Hungarian laws, had left the country.
Michael Ignatieff, the CEU’s president and rector, told the BBC that CEU had been forced to split into two parts by the government. He said the government was unwilling to sign an agreement which, under a law passed in 2017, was necessary for the CEU to continue its activities in Budapest. In the absence of the agreement, the university cannot issue US accredited diplomas in Budapest, he noted.
Ignatieff insisted that the Hungarian government was “a regime that is hostile to any free institution”.
He also characterised the Hungarian government’s position on Soros as a “fantastical conspiracy theory”. Soros’s ability to influence developments in Hungary “is virtually zero”, he added.
Featured image: www.facebook.com/OpenSocietyFoundations