Government spokesman attacks ‘unhinged’ Financial Times

EU

The Financial Times (FT) has “slandered the Orbán Government” in articles in the past two weeks regarding the latterʼs stance against the alleged pro-immigration activities of Hungarian-born financier and philanthropist George Soros, government spokesman Zoltán Kovács wrote in a blog entry quoted on government website kormany.hu on Wednesday.

Under the headline, “The Financial Times has become completely unhinged,” kormany.hu summarized a blog entry Kovács posted on the government website About Hungary. The spokesman accused the FT of “clear bias and continued ignorance of the facts”, and an “unhealthy obsession” with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Kovács charged that the latest FT article criticizing the Hungarian governmentʼs attacks on Soros “exclusively relies on Soros-affiliated sources, and includes, at the same time, some glaring examples of disinformation”.

He added that the FT, along with much of the mainstream media, is “utterly incapable of reporting on Soros as anything other than a ‘billionaire philanthropist’ who goes about using his personal fortune to selflessly support myriad charitable causes”, while it chooses to ignore “the blatantly political causes” that he supports.

“They will not ask probing questions about his meetings with the president and other members of the European Commission, and they will not inquire about his lobbying activities in Brussels,” he noted, adding that the mainstream media “will likewise not discuss serious allegations of [Soros] funding NGOs that have helped illegal migrants violate Europe’s immigration and asylum procedures”.

‘Fake news’ or ‘scare story’?

The government spokesman was responding to an article that appeared in the Financial Times critical of the governmentʼs latest “national consultation” on the alleged “Soros plan,” as well as an editorial entitled “Hungary’s assault on Soros and EU values.”

In the FT article, a spokesperson for Soros issued a statement in response to the governmentʼs latest anti-Soros campaign, declaring: “There is no such thing as a global conspiracy against Hungary orchestrated by George Soros. We regret that the government is spending over USD 3 million of public money to play on instincts of fear and hatred to manipulate Hungarian voters six months ahead of the parliamentary election.”

In the editorial, the FT characterized the Hungarian governmentʼs much-repeated claim of a “Soros plan” to flood Europe with migrants as “fake news”.

“Mr Soros has written in favor of the EU accepting more refugees and proposed joint measures. But to claim, as Fidesz does, that he somehow mesmerized the EU into adopting a plan to accept a million migrants a year and coerce reluctant member states into accommodating them is a fabricated scare story,” said the FT.

“The continuing demonization of Mr Soros and his NGOs, and Mr Orbán’s broader confrontation with the EU over its migrant policy, together represent an attack on European values of openness, tolerance and respect for human rights,” the editorial added.

The FT editorial suggested that Fidesz should be expelled from the European People’s Party, the pan-European center-right group to which Orbánʼs party belongs. It also drew attention to EU structural funds, of which Hungary is a prime recipient.

“Such EU financing amounts to more than 3.5 percentage points of annual economic output - and is responsible for much of the economic growth of recent years for which Mr Orbán’s Fidesz is attempting to claim credit,” the FT wrote. “Research by anti-corruption groups suggests that large state contracts financed in part by EU funds are awarded disproportionately to individuals and companies close to Fidesz and the prime minister.”

The editorial noted that suspension of EU funding to Hungary would risk unfairly penalizing ordinary Hungarians, but suggested that Brussels “could threaten to withhold funding unless Hungary submits to tougher and higher-level scrutiny, for example by the EU’s anti-fraud office or a proposed new European Public Prosecutor.”

“EU members should not expect to continue to enjoy the fruits of membership if they reject its rules and values as blatantly as Hungary is doing today,” the editorial concluded.

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