Szijjártó steps up war of words with Soros

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“George Soros’s attack on Hungary has gained new momentum with the approach of Hungary’s parliamentary elections,” Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó told reporters on Wednesday in Budapest. Szijjártó spoke in the wake of criticisms voiced by the Hungarian-born financier and philanthropist in an interview with the Financial Times.

A billboard displayed in the governmentʼs anti-Soros campaign earlier this year, with the main caption reading: “Letʼs not let Soros have the last laugh!”

“The government is practicing an independent policy that solely represents the interests of the Hungarian people,” Szijjártó said at a press conference held on a different topic, quoted by official government website kormany.hu. “This is all at odds with the interests of George Soros, and in recent years his plan has resulted in illegal immigration reaching mass numbers in Europe.”

The government has repeatedly accused Soros of being behind a so-called Soros Plan to enforce immigrant quotas across Europe. The anti-Soros propaganda has reached a new crescendo with the latest ongoing “National Consultation,” in which the government makes a number of contentious statements with regard to the alleged plan, all of which Soros himself refuted in detail this week.

The Financial Times - which has itself described the governmentʼs anti-Soros campaign as “an attack on European values of openness, tolerance and respect for human rights” - conducted a telephone interview with Soros earlier this week, in which the latter accused Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán of casting him as an “external enemy” in an attempt to mislead voters and cling to power.

Soros told the FT that he had resisted responding until now, but that he fears for the safety of civil society groups that his foundation supports after Orbán indicated he would have the country’s spy agencies monitor their activities.

“It’s a tragedy for Hungary that its government seeks to stay in power through hate-mongering and misleading the population,” Soros said in the telephone interview with the FT.  “I can’t remain silent any more because I fear [that] the recent announcement that the Hungarian intelligence services will start an investigation means there is a danger that not only organizations but individual leaders will be persecuted.”

According to Szijjártó, illegal immigration is clearly a security issue.

“In recent years, 27 terrorist attacks have claimed 330 lives in Europe,” he was quoted as saying by kormany.hu.  “It is worth looking at to what extent George Soros has funded pro-immigration NGOs and with what pomp he has been received in Brussels.”

“The message [Soros] has sent with relation to the National Consultation falls into the category of making excuses,” Szijjártó continued. “Hungary would not be safe today if George Soros’s interests were being enforced,” he added. 

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