“Faced with an increasingly repressive political and legal environment in Hungary, the Open Society Foundations are moving their Budapest-based international operations and staff to the German capital, Berlin,” the group confirmed on Tuesday.
The group based its decision on the fact that Budapest “prepares to impose further restrictions on nongovernmental organizations through what it has branded its “Stop Soros” package of legislation.”
Prime Minister Viktor Orban has repeatedly spoken out against the detrimental agendas of Soros’ foundation and other NGOs, accusing the billionaire of meddling in Hungary’s internal political affairs by funding opposition groups.
When news of the Open Society Foundations’ possible departure from Hungary broke in, Mr Orban responded: “You might understand if I don’t cry my eyes out.”
In February, Fidesz submitted a bill to parliament called the ‘Stop Soros Act’ – in reference to the Hungarian-American tycoon – which would curb immigration and would also affect foreign-funded NGOs. The bill says that all NGOs which“support illegal immigration” need to be registered, while any NGO which gets money from abroad must pay a 25-percent tax.
Also, foreign citizens and Hungarian nationals who support illegal immigration could be subject to a restraining order which would keep them away from the border. “If Soros is found to have engaged in such activity, meaning he organizes illegal immigration, then the rules will apply to him,” government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said in February.
The Open Society Foundations project has an annual budget of nearly one billion dollars. It operates in over 100 countries across the globe, with 26 national and regional foundations and offices.
The billionaire also faced accusations of meddling in British politics after news emerged that he donated almost half a million pounds to a campaign seeking to reverse Brexit.