Over a month ago we learned that the nation of Hungary had effectively driven all of the NGOs operated by billionaire George Soros out of their country. The current government isn’t exactly composed of big fans of Soros’ efforts to liberalize the country, particularly in terms of its immigration policy. At the same time, Prime Minister Viktor Orban was working with the legislature to formalize the arrangement while running for reelection. That effort has now come to fruition with the passage of what they refer to as the STOP Soros law. (Thomson Reuters)
Hungary’s parliament on Wednesday approved a package of bills that criminalises some help given to illegal immigrants, defying the European Union and human rights groups and narrowing the scope for action by non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
Prime Minister Viktor Orban has been a vocal critic of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door migrant policy and has led eastern European opposition to EU quotas that aimed to distribute asylum seekers around the bloc.
Orban’s right-wing Fidesz party tightened its grip on parliament in an April election fought on a fiercely anti-immigration platform that demonised U.S. billionaire George Soros and liberal NGOs he backs. Orban accuses Soros of encouraging mass immigration to undermine Europe, a charge Soros denies.
Speaking as somebody who isn’t exactly a big fan of Soros, even I’ll admit that this package of laws is a bit on the draconian side. They’ve already placed significant restrictions on legal migration and taken steps to secure their borders against unlawful entry. But the STOP Soros bills are criminalizing any efforts by groups or individuals to provide physical or legal assistance to migrants seeking legal status, with penalities including prison terms.
Soros seems to have taken the hint, though, since he’s reportedly shifting his Open Society Foundation operations to Germany. But given how rapidly things have been evolving there, with the possibility that Angela Merkel may not even remain in power for much longer, it’s unclear if Soros will be getting as warm of a welcome as he might have in the past.
This is a policy which fits in with other international efforts among certain EU nations. Austria and Italy, joined by the Foreign Minister of Germany, recently announced the formation of an “Axis of the Willing” to combat illegal immigration in Europe. Hungary, along with the other V4 nations (Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia), have expressed an interest in teaming up. So no matter where Soros and his foundation wind up this year, it’s unlikely to be one of those nations.