Open Society Foundations to limit EU funding in restructuring

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Soros Group informs Hungarian NGOs of 'extremely limited' resources for EU

Open Society Foundations (OSF), a charity founded by Hungarian-born billionaire George Soros has informed various organizations in Hungary that they are planning to withdraw large parts of their work within the European Union as they shift focus to other parts of the world, 444 and Radio Free Europe reports. Several Hungarian NGOs confirmed that they received an email on August 11 from OSF, which cites the board's decision "on a radical strategic change of direction".

An OSF spokesperson also confirmed the strategic reorganization while emphasizing the charity group would "continue to fund civil-society groups across Europe," including those that work on EU external affairs or support Romany communities.

From 2014, human rights and democracy NGOs will be supported primarily in Ukraine, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, and the Western Balkans within Europe. The precise nature of the organization's programs in Europe will be decided in the upcoming months. OSF's statement also indicates that the restructuring will involve at least a 40 percent cut in the organization, with following the local rules.

Remarkably low number of Ukrainian refugees were granted temporary protection in Hungary 

About four million Ukrainian refugees were granted temporary protection in the EU by June, Eurostat reports. Hungary lags far behind in terms of the EU average in proportion to the country's population with only 32,000 Ukrainian refugees who fled their homes as a consequence of the Russian invasion. The Central European country has the fifth lowest number of refugees who received temporary protection from the state.

In the Central-Eastern European region, Poland (ca. 978,000) and the Czech Republic (ca. 350,000) have granted the most refugees temporary status. In the EU Germany is leading the list with 1.3 million Ukrainian refugees. The low rate in Hungary may be the result of dual citizens fleeing from the Transcarpathia region. Ethnic Hungarians are counted as EU citizens, while the statistic only shows protection given to non-EU citizens arriving from Ukraine.

Still no suspect in the Microsoft bribery case

After four years, there are still no suspects in the Microsoft bribery case where improper payments were used to bribe government officials in Hungary and other countries. In 2019 Microsoft Corp agreed to pay $25.3 to settle charges, including a criminal fine. Independent MP, Akos Hadhazy sent questions to Hungary's Prosecutor General, Peter Polt, asking about the current state of that case.

According to the Deputy Prosecutor General, the investigation is still in the 'preliminary phase' and no suspects have been questioned. The official reply says "No further coercive measures have been taken and witness hearings are ongoing in the case".

OLAF had previously opened an investigation into fraud in the sale of software licenses co-financed by the European Regional Development Funds and the European Social Fund, where resellers working with Microsoft Hungary had obtained Microsoft licenses at low prices and sold them to public bodies at inflated prices.

Hungarian government refuses to reveal Chinese chemical hub factory documents

According to leaked documents obtained by Hungarian investigative outlet Direkt36, Antal Rogán, head of the Prime Minister’s Cabinet Office in charge of a Chinese railway chemical trade project, wrote a letter of support to Chinese counterparts in February 2023. The outlet filed a FOIA request for the letter to Cabinet Office, but the Ministry refused the request, claiming that the letter is considered “data used for supporting a decision”.

"The suggestion is not serious, no a chemical hub factory will be built. You can sleep tight at night,” Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in reply to an opposition MP who asked him about the Chinese railway chemical trade hub that could be set up in Budapest, and in Záhony, a town close to the Ukrainian border. The latter location could help China supply chemical plants and battery factories with various chemical raw materials not only in Hungary but all over Europe. The Orbán government strongly denied the leaked plans but the leaked documents and the ministry's response suggest otherwise.