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Jul 21, 2017 - Zoltán Kovács

Why do these NGOs resist transparency?

A number of Soros-funded NGOs in Hungary have declared that they will not comply with the new NGO law and will instead boycott out of civil disobedience. There’s nothing valiant in their cause, just hypocrisy. The fact that the same NGOs have no problem abiding by even stricter rules and regulations in Germany, Austria, Israel, and the US speaks for itself.

A few weeks ago, the day before the Hungarian parliament adopted the NGO law, the CEO of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union announced their intention to disobey the law -- not even passed at that time – because they consider it oppressive. The law – since passed – requires civic organizations operating in Hungary that receive foreign funding above a certain threshold to declare their foreign affiliations in their communications. Nothing wrong with that; it’s all in the name of transparency.

The Hungarian chapters of some international “franchise NGOs,” like the Helsinki Committee and Amnesty International, have joined the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union in declaring their intent to disregard the law of the country in which they operate. On one hand, these NGOs are insisting that they are merely civic groups not pushing a political agenda; but on the other, these organizations are opposing the law with so-called “civic resistance.” That seems political.

These international NGOs claim that the Hungarian civil law discriminates and cannot be compared to NGO legislation in other democracies. The laws of some German states, however, Israeli rules and regulations, and some aspects of the Foreign Agents Registration Act in the US are even stricter than their Hungarian counterpart. In these countries, it is quite clear that if any organization receives a significant portion of its funding from abroad – because such funding could be an attempt to influence the political arena – that should be public knowledge. It’s not deemed oppressive that foreign-backed NGOs have to declare their finances in the same way that similar groups are required to do in the US, Germany, and Israel. What’s more, in Austria, NGOs engaging in lobbying activities, such as Amnesty International and Greenpeace, have to register as lobbyists. In Hungary, all that’s required of these organization is that they declare that they are receiving funding from abroad.

Many players in the public sphere have no objection to the new Hungarian ruling, which raises the question, “What do these protesting organizations have in common?” Firstly, many of the rebels have a strong pro-migration agenda through which they oppose Hungary’s pro-security approach. These NGOs claim they represent the people, but actually it’s the opposite. Public surveys (including a recent one from Pew Research Center) conducted across Europe and during the latest Hungarian national consultation show a clear majority stand against the influx of uncontrolled migration and call on their national governments to tackle the issue instead of EU bureaucrats. We also see these NGOs powerfully pushing other agendas like the legalization of recreational drug use or gender issues as if there were real public support behind them.

Let’s be honest, the organizations raising their voices against the new NGO Act are not grassroots initiatives. They are vehicles to advance the agenda of foreign political interests. These organizations don’t stand on their own. They depend for their livelihood on funding from Soros sources.

“The NGO Act is being criticized exclusively by the same organizations – with funding from George Soros – that are opposing the government in relation to migration,” said Deputy Justice Minister Pál Völner recently. Völner also pointed out that no correspondence has been received from the complaining organizations explaining any concrete legal problems that they claim exist in the new legislation, reinforcing the impression that theirs is an ideological opposition not based on real, legal issues.

All this “civil disobedience” started just after the heir of the Open Society empire, Alexander Soros, met with representatives of civic organizations affiliated with his father circles.

The citizens of Hungary have a right to know. They deserve transparency and this government is dedicated to providing that – not as harshly as some other democratic countries facing similar circumstances, but based on the same concerns. In Hungary, everyone, even NGOs supported by George Soros, must abide by the law.