- Reuters/Laszlo Balogh
- Hungarian government launches “national consultation” about billionaire George Soros. The government accuses Soros of wanting to dismantle border fences and open borders to refugees and funding EU campaign to get his way. Eight million Hungarians will be sent a questionnaire about Soros’ views.
The Hungarian government is attacking billionaire financier George Soros for what it claims are his efforts to bring millions of refugees into Europe.
Hungary-born Soros, a Jewish Holocaust survivor, says the national attack amounts to a “conspiracy” against him.
Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban has repeatedly attacked what he sees as the EU’s pro-refugee stance. He and his party have dubbed efforts to settle refugees within the bloc the “Soros plan,” as he believes the billionaire has pulled strings behind the scenes to orchestrate it.
Soros is the subject of a “national consultation” in his native Hungary, which alleges that he is conspiring with the European Commission to bring one million refugees a year into Europe. Eight million Hungarian citizens will be sent a questionnaire including questions about Soros’ alleged plot.
According to the Financial Times, which has seen the document, the paper contains seven accusations against Soros, including that he supports “dismantling border fences and opening borders, ensuring milder criminal sentences for immigrants” as well as saying he wants to publicly attack and punish countries that oppose immigration.
- Reuters/Laszlo Balogh
The Times reports that the leaflet says: “The goal of the Soros plan is to diminish the importance of the language and culture of European countries in order to make the integration of illegal immigrants happen sooner.”
Charity Human Rights Watch, which is funded by Soros’s Open Society Foundations, said these claims are “incendiary and false.”
“In advance of the April 2018 elections, the consultation serves to divert the public’s attention from pressing domestic issues, including challenges facing the education and healthcare systems,” the charity says.
Adverts promoting the campaign have appeared on Hungarian TV and billboards bearing Soros’ face, alongside the slogan “Don’t let Soros have the last laugh,” have appeared around the country over the last few months.
Soros has been an advocate of allowing the resettlement of refugees in Europe since the beginning of the European migrant crisis in 2015. In a 2016 article for his charity, the George Soros Foundation, Soros said: “The EU must take in a substantial number of refugees directly from front-line countries in a secure and orderly manner.”
The article, titled “Saving Refugees to Save Europe,” argued that the European Union should also make “a commitment to admit even a mere 300,000 refugees annually.”
However, Soros has denied doing anything more than publically advocate for refugee rights. A spokesperson said:
“There is no such thing as a global conspiracy against Hungary orchestrated by George Soros. We regret that the government is spending over $3 million of public money to play on instincts of fear and hatred to manipulate Hungarian voters six months ahead of the parliamentary election.”
Soros, who is worth around $25 billion, has been at the centre of conspiracy theories since he first rose to the top echelons of hedge fund managers in the 1990s.
He is best known in the UK as “The Man who broke the Bank of England” after he bet big against the pound during the Black Wednesday crisis of 1992 when Britain dropped out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM). Soros made more than $1 billion during the crisis after the value of the pound dropped 15%.