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George Soros seen behind criticism of Hungary

May 21st, 2016

As a leading Cabinet Minister claims that Mr Soros is an influential force behind critical remarks by US personalities about Hungary’s policies, columnists are undecided about how serious the implications may be.

div János Lázár, the Minister in charge of the Prime Minister’s office told the press that he suspected Mr Soros’s influence behind Bill Clinton’s accusation that Hungarians want an authoritarian leader and reject foreigners (See BudaPost, May 19). He described the Hungarian-American investment tycoon as ‘the financier of the Clintons’ and suspected his influence behind a recent statement by President Obama encouraging Europe to host immigrants. Mr Soros is known for his proposal that Europe should find the money to accommodate large numbers of refugees in forthcoming years. On Friday evening Hungarian and international media based in Budapest received emails from Mr Soros’s spokesman, saying that ‘Recent reports in the Hungarian media have mischaracterized George Soros’s views on Europe’s migration crisis and possible solutions.’ He referred correspondents to an article in the New York Review of Books about Mr Soros’s stance. Mr Lázár said Hungary wants strong relations with the US but “there are divergences on certain issues”. He said Hungary could not agree with those who “promote mass immigration.” When asked about the remarks on Mr Soros’s role in presidential policies, White House spokesman John Earnest said he had not heard about them but was not sure they were worthy of a response.

In a sarcastic column in Népszabadság, Péter Pető says anyone who wants to make a successful career in government must be able to concoct conspiracy theories. He finds it highly controversial that Mr Soros is being considered a moral authority when he has famously speculated to ruin several national currencies. However, political conspiracy theories about him make serious discussions on his doubtful manoeuvres impossible. He ends his piece warning ironically that his article was also dictated by George Soros.

In a guest opinion column in Új Szó, foreign policy analyst Botond Feledy cautions against taking phrases by “politicians in campaign mode” at face value. For instance, while former President Nicolas Sarkozy of France called Hungary and Poland “working democracies”, President Hollande retorted that he “would not like (to live in) such societies”. He interprets statements by “heavyweight personalities” as being directed at domestic audiences – just as Foreign Minister Péter Szíjjártó’s answer targeted the Hungarian public. Nevertheless, he adds, there is a strong narrative in the US “based on American interests rather than eastern Europe’s own merits”. Feledy warns that should Hillary Clinton become President, Hungary must prepare for (unpleasant) surprises, e.g. from former ambassador to Budapest Eleni Tsakopoulos Kanalakis who is strongly critical of Fidesz policies and who might be given a high job in the new administration.

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