The spat between the Hungarian and Norwegian governments has taken another turn, as the Norwegians have announced that they won’t pay the 215 million Euros (77bn HUF) through the Norwegian Active Citizens Fund until they can have their local distributor of choice. Their local partner in Hungary, though, happens to be an NGO called Ökotárs, viewed by many as a group entirely aligned with the goals of US billionaire oligarch George Soros’ Open Society Funds (OSF). In practice, this has meant that the Norwegian government would have directly interfered with the Hungarian democratic process by distributing eye-watering sums by Hungarian standards to political pressure groups masquerading as charities that strongly opposed the government of Viktor Orbán.
Norway, as a country outside the European Union, is obliged to pay an agreed annual sum to EU member states in return for access to their markets; however, due to the dispute, the payments have been suspended since 2014. The above sum was due to the Hungarian government for opening their economy to Norwegian companies. Norway would, in return, select one local partner that would be responsible for choosing which NGOs or charities the money should go to. However, according to the bilateral agreements, the Hungarian government has a veto when choosing the main local distributor. Out of seven candidates for the role, the Hungarian authorities have objected only against one, Ökotárs, for their alleged political bias. The left-wing Norwegian government have, however, insisted on the above group without explaining why the others were not suitable. The candidates have included organisations such as the Hungarian Red Cross, which can hardly be accused of pro-government sentiments, yet even they were rejected.
Now the Norwegian government has declared that they consider the negotiations over, and won’t transfer the huge sum to Hungary. Instead, they will find alternative ways to support civil society groups, they declared. This is a clear violation of Norway’s obligation under European Economic Area (EEA) rules, and many interpret it as a sign that if Norway is not allowed to spend its money on anti-conservative and ultra-liberal NGOs already sponsored by the Open Society Funds, they will withhold the payments altogether.
That this is not a right-wing conspiracy theory is revealed by the recent confession of a former OSF volunteer, who had revealed how George Soros’ anti-Fidesz propaganda is intertwined with the Ökotárs group, the Norwegian government’s only partner of choice. In his article, Bence Békés describes how in 2012 one of OSF’s managers tried to explain to him that the Norwegians are dissatisfied with Ökotárs and have tried to take over the distribution of the Norwegian money. Ultimately, they were stopped by George Soros himself in order to conceal any direct involvement in his proxy war against the government of Viktor Orbán. He was satisfied with using Ökotárs as a middleman, but then he supplied the “experts” who had a decisive say in which charities receive money. Unsurprisingly, one look at the Hungarian pro-LGBTQ and gender ideology non-governmental landscape makes clear who has been supported by the Norwegian funds and who was entirely ignored.
According to Békés, it is not only projects more aligned with the spirit of a conservative society that were ignored by the Soros-controlled Norwegian funds, but even initiatives such as health and educational projects within the Romani community that fell short of the “experts” judgement. Initially they were encouraged by OSF representatives to launch their projects, yet when the Romani activists presented their plans, they were simply ignored by OSF without any explanation, allegedly because they could not communicate in English. That is when the Roma activists turned to the Norwegian Funds. Békés, who was helping them with their proposals, was then visited by a representative of one of the large NGOs based in Budapest, who had informed him not to put too much effort into the draft, as he was reliably informed that the Norwegian Funds money was then reserved for the mainstream NGOs, “because there is a large conflict looming with the Hungarian government, and all the money needs to be funnelled towards this.”
Despite the bitter accusations from Hungarian anti-government NGOs who are accusing Orbán of wasting hundreds of millions of Euros, it is perhaps clear why the government does not want to allow the funding of political pressure groups diametrically opposed to its pro-family, anti-migrations, and anti-LGBTQ propaganda policies. The Hungarian government has declared its intention to recoup the money its owed, saying, “We will not accept Norway’s dictate… From the seven candidates Hungary was willing to accept any except from the George Soros-supported Ökotárs, even though Norway insisted on this Soros-organisation…”