Hungary PM Orban says expects ongoing fight over migration

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that the key issue he and US financier George Soros differ on, migration, will remain at the top of the European agenda.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that the key issue he and US financier George Soros differ on, migration, will remain at the top of the European agenda.PHOTO: REUTERS

BUDAPEST (REUTERS) - Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Friday (April 20) said he expects his conflict with the liberal ideology of US financier George Soros' Open Society Foundations (OSF) to continue despite the organisation's decision to leave the country.

"You might understand if I don't cry my eyes out," he told state radio MR1 when asked about the OSF move, adding that the key issue he and Soros differ on, migration, will remain at the top of the European agenda.

A summit of European leaders in late June should not make broad changes to the way the continent handles immigration, he said, adding such decisions should be made after the 2019 European parliament elections to ensure EU voters get a say in the matter.

OSF will close their office in Budapest and move their eastern European operations to Berlin, Austria's Die Presse newspaper reported on Thursday.

Orban has blamed the Hungarian-born Soros for a host of ills and pushed through legislation cracking down on non-governmental organisations called the "Stop Soros" laws which drew international criticism.

The Hungarian news web site 444.hu said the OSF office would shut by Aug 31 and move first to Vienna then on to Berlin.

Reuters was not been able to immediately reach OSF either in Budapest or New York.

 
 

Orban, a self-styled champion of what he calls an "illiberal democracy", has long been at odds with Soros' network of NGO's which promote liberal values around the world.

The Hungarian premier has for years waged a campaign against migration into Europe, an issue at the centre of his re-election bid which resulted in a third landslide victory this month.

Orban's Fidesz party said it would deliver on campaign promises to crack down on NGOs that promote migrant rights. The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe said the election was characterised by xenophobic and intimidating messages.

The legislation submitted to parliament before the election would impose a 25 per cent tax on foreign donations to NGOs that the government says back immigration.

Their activity would have to be approved by the interior minister, who could deny permission if he saw a national security risk.

The Soros-founded Central European University has also said it is opening a campus in Vienna in the near future. It has said it remains committed to its Budapest campus, despite government pressure that it said was geared to oust it from Hungary.