Despite billionaire financier George Soros’s network running a months-long campaign attempting to smear Hungary with claims that its leaders “clearly violate international law and threaten European citizens”, these efforts ultimately has failed due to a lack of supporting evidence, a new study the Nézőpont Institute has found.
The study determined the coordinated campaign began on March 30 after the Hungarian Parliament gave a mandate to the conservative government of Viktor Orbán to rule by decree for the duration and in respect to the coronavirus outbreak, which first appeared in Hungary on March 4.
Although EU announced on April 29 that it would take no action against Hungary as it broke no European rules with its state of emergency law, this decision was only reached after months of attacks from Soros’s network and the liberal press in what the Nézőpont Institute described as a coordinated campaign to harm the Hungarian government.
On March 30, the same day parliament enacted the ruling conservative Fidesz party’s motion, Soros’s New York-based Open Society Network issued a press release claiming that the bill “will impose harsh restrictions on media freedoms and citizen mobility”, saying it was “further evidence that Viktor Orban has authoritarian tendencies”. The network also urged the “international community” to condemn Hungary.
The statement from Soros’s Open Society Foundation also falsely claimed “the bill will also cancel future elections” in Hungary, a claim that had no basis in fact.
The study shows that a few weeks later the New York-based Human Rights Watch (formerly Helsinki Watch) NGO also joined the campaign, when its CEO Kenneth Roth declared that the ten million people of Hungary live under authoritarian rule and campaigned in a video for the exclusion of Fidesz from the European People’s Party.
In addition to NGOs, the campaign against Hungary was followed by a coordinated international press campaign, with opinion pieces in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Financial Times, Washington Post, The Guardian and several other liberal media outlets that Hungary is curtailing civil freedoms.
The Open Society Foundation had also activated its member network in Hungary, including from the Soros-founded Károly Eötvös Institute, The Hungarian Helsinki Committee, the Society for Freedoms (HCLU), and Amnesty International Hungary. The Open Society Foundation either has a direct or indirect role in their funding.
Despite the international efforts of the Soros network, the European Union concluded that the emergency mandate of the government does not violate or contradict any European regulations, as stated by the European Commission’s Vice President for Values and Transparency Věra Jourová on Czech TV in April.
“After a month-long, intensive domestic and international campaign, legal and political facts have confirmed the government [position] and the Soros-network has failed again, although they have deployed all their usual methods, mobilizing the entire network from fake NGOs through journalists and prominent politicians,” the Nézőpont Institute study concludes.
For a number of reasons, the EU was unable to take action against Hungary even if it wanted to. Legal experts pointed out that the additional emergency powers granted by the Hungarian government were not unique and that many other EU countries, such as France or Romania, also resulted in varying degrees of restrictions of fundamental rights.
The study warns that the campaign is just one of many launched against Hungary and is “probably not the last such campaign against Viktor Orbán”.
Title image: Hungarian-born U.S. billionaire George Soros.