Hungary’s government spokesman voiced concerns over Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros’ plan to invest $1 billion to build his Open Society University Network, calling it an “ideologically-driven political agenda.”
The Budapest-born investor said Thursday during the World Economic Forum summit held in Davos, Switzerland, that he would contribute $1 billion to establish a global network of universities to promote the values of “free expression and diversity of beliefs” according to the Open Society Foundations’ press release.
In what Soros called “the most important and enduring project” of his life, OSUN seeks to “reach institutions in need of international partners, as well as neglected populations, such as refugees, incarcerated people, the Roma and other displaced groups,” and work with “politically endangered scholars.”
“In Soros’s view, it is high time [for] Open Society Foundation, the vehicle through which he funds myriad endeavours to advance an ideologically-driven political agenda, to build on his previous efforts and develop ‘a new and innovative educational network that the world really needs’,” Hungary’s Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Relations Zoltán Kovács, wrote in an official blog entry.
Kovács continued to add that Soros was “pretty clear about his determination to push his open society agenda,” although “international media and advocates of globalism” tend to focus on the billionaire’s philanthropist work.
In an earlier blog entry, Kovács bashed Renew Europe Group’s migration proposal at European Parliament, calling it a “Soros plan” that aimed to turn Europe into an open society by forcing migrant quotas on member states of the European Union.
It is not the first time George Soros found himself at odds with his home country since Prime Minister Viktor Orbán came to power in 2010, amidst Europe’s refugee and migrant crisis. In December 2018, the Central European University (CEU) was forced out of Hungary and moved its U.S.-accredited academic programs from Budapest to Vienna, Austria, after the Hungarian government declined to renew an agreement that would allow the Soros-founded institution to continue to operate its campus in the country’s capital under the terms of a 2017 law on foreign branch campuses. The law required foreign branch campuses in Hungary to have a campus in their home country, but the CEU didn’t have a campus in the United States.
Earlier this month, the European Union’s Court of Justice said (pdf) a Hungarian law regarding foreign-funded non-government organizations (NGOs) was in conflict with current EU law. The 2017 legislation, which many deemed as Orbán administration’s attack on the Open Society Foundations, required NGOs accepting more than 7.2 million forints ($24,090 USD) of foreign money per year to register and identify themselves as foreign-funded in their public profiles.