The government spokesperson has penned a detailed letter to the editor of POLITICO pointing out that Hungary’s civil society is doing just fine.
Zoltán Kovács, Spokesperson, Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister, says tighter rules and greater transparency for foreign-funded NGOs is not bad for democracy.
The spokesperson responded to the opinion piece “Hungary’s illiberal infection of the western Balkans,” which states that under Viktor Orbán’s government, running an independent NGO has become a “hazardous activity,” and this erosion of the rule of law has begun to infect the western Balkans.
Kovács writes that the author of the above-mentioned opinion piece is an analyst at none other than the Open Society European Policy Institute and makes the same arrogant mistake so many of these figures commit. That is, without them and their ideologically driven Soros-funded organizations, civil society ceases to exist.
He adds that civil society does not equal the Open Society network of NGOs. Civil society in Hungary, comprising more than 60,000 NGOs, is much more than that, and it’s doing just fine without the Soros-funded groups. But to listen to these people, if they were to leave the country and move to Berlin, it would turn the lights out on civil society and freedom in this country. Woe to us on that dark day, he writes.
The pending legislation to which the author refers is about transparency and accountability of NGOs operating in Hungary with foreign funding, he adds. Specifically, it places tighter regulations on those groups that use foreign funding to promote or aid migration in Hungary.
Kovács writes that as a country on the frontier of the EU, Hungary considers migration a matter of national security, and we take seriously our obligation to protect that border. We believe that foreign-funded groups active in this sensitive area should be subject to tighter rules and greater transparency. To paint this as a set of draconian laws that will result in police raids on law-abiding organizations is a willful distortion of the facts.
For the past two years, the United States has been consumed by the controversy that a foreign power may have intervened in its election. It’s stunning then that some are shocked that countries — Hungary is not alone in this — are imposing stricter regulations on groups that survive almost entirely on foreign funding to carry out activities that are often blatantly partisan and drive an agenda that seeks to influence political outcomes, he adds.
The spokesperson concludes with a note on PM Orbán’s vision for democracy in Hungary, which contrary to the author’s claim, has its roots in a clear, cohesive idea. It calls for a “21st-century Christian democracy, which guarantees human dignity, freedom and security, protects the equal rights of men and women, the model of the traditional family, puts a halt to anti-Semitism, [and] protects our Christian culture.” That may be at odds with the Open Society world view, but unlike theirs, our vision enjoys broad popular support from our voters, he added.