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Billionaire has said the ‘hate-mongering campaign’ was designed to ‘distract’ Hungarian voters from government corruption, and dire conditions in health care and education.22 November 2017
Philanthropist George Soros has directly addressed the claims made in the Hungarian government’s recent “National Consultation” in which every person of voting age was asked to give their opinion on the so-called “Soros Plan.” His response came via a point-by-point rebuttal published on his website on Monday, and in interviews with the Financial Times on Monday and via video message sent to Hungarian outlet RTL Klub on Tuesday.
The National Consultation presented seven statements that purportedly constituted Soros’s policy plan for migration to Europe; respondents were asked to agree or disagree with each one. The consultation, which was the seventh questionnaire of this kind, was sent out in October.
While it was roundly criticized at the time as little more than propaganda, this is the first time Soros himself has directly refuted the claims made in the campaign, which he calls “distortions and outright lies that deliberately mislead Hungarians about George Soros’s views on migrants and refugees.”
To the first statement, “George Soros wants Brussels to resettle at least one million immigrants per year onto European Union territory, including in Hungary,” Soros responded on his website:
“In a 2015 opinion piece, George Soros said that because of the war in Syria, the European Union would have to “accept at least a million asylum-seekers annually for the foreseeable future. And, to do that, it must share the burden fairly.” A year later, when circumstances had changed, he suggested that the EU should make a “commitment to admit even a mere 300,000 refugees annually.”
To the last three statements – one of which claimed, “The goal of the Soros Plan is to push the languages and cultures of Europe into the background so that integration of illegal immigrants happens much more quickly” – Soros’s reaction was:
“Nowhere has Soros made any such statement. This is a lie.”
When asked by a RTL reporter why he chose now to publicly denounce the claims, Soros said that he worried his silence could have a negative impact on civil society organizations and the people who work for them, who he says are at risk and in whose name he now “must speak out” to protect them from further attacks.
Earlier this year, the Hungarian government ignored widespread criticism and protests to push through a law on the operation of foreign-funded NGOs in Hungary.
In reporting Soros’s response to the ‘consultation’ claims, right-wing news site 888.hu – which is owned by Arpad Habony, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief personal strategist – called it “Soros’s latest attack on the Hungarian government.”
The Hungarian-born philanthropist is a favorite target of the government, and right-wing movements in Hungary and worldwide, for his public support of liberal causes.
In October, Andras Aradszki, the undersecretary for energy and a member of Fidesz’s collation partner KDNP, said in a speech in parliament that it was a “Christian obligation to fight against the Satan – Soros plan.”
Soros rarely speaks out directly against the Hungarian government. Last year, when another billboard campaign drew criticism for their anti-Semitic undertone, it was a colleague that said the ads evoked memories of Europe’s darkest days. The campaign had featured Soros as a puppet master controlling politicians from Hungary’s liberal opposition parties.
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