The Open Society Foundations (OSF) network, founded by Hungarian-born business magnate George Soros to financially support civil society around the world, has declined to confirm news reports Thursday that it may close its office in Budapest, saying instead it is “considering various options.”
Austrian portal Die Presse reported on Thursday evening that Patrick Gaspard, president of the OSF, had traveled to Budapest to announce to OSF employees the closure of the office in the Hungarian capital.
According to the report, Gaspard also said the OSF will open a branch in Berlin in the summer. Bloomberg added that the OSF would move about 100 employees from Budapest to Berlin.
Bloomberg also cited Prime Minister Viktor Orbán as saying on public radio on Friday that he would not shed “crocodile tears” if the organization left Budapest.
When contacted by the Budapest Business Journal, the OSF would not confirm either Gaspardʼs visit to Budapest or the reported planned closure of the office.
“The Open Society Foundations are closely watching developments around the draft legislation that would dramatically restrict the activities of civil society in Hungary,” the OSF statement says. “We are considering various options, as the security of our staff in Budapest and the integrity of our work is of paramount importance.”
“With the Open Society Foundations’ 30-year legacy of helping Hungarians and encouraging human rights and critical thinking, we are committed to continuing our work in this country,” the statement added.
According to the organizationʼs website, the OSF works “to build vibrant and tolerant societies whose governments are accountable and open to the participation of all people. We seek to strengthen the rule of law; respect for human rights, minorities, and a diversity of opinions; democratically elected governments; and a civil society that helps keep government power in check.”
The foundations work in over 100 countries worldwide.