Lazy eyes listen
Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party plans to present legislation in parliament that will establish a special office to monitor acts that “threaten the country’s sovereignty.”
The new department would be in charge of overseeing the inflow of foreign funding to political parties, media outlets, and public organisations that are thought to be targeted for influence or manipulation by hostile governments or financial interests, such as Hungarian-American billionaire and serial liberal cause financier George Soros.
Gergely Gulyas, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff, declined to elaborate on the new office’s mandate when he announced the impending submission of the draught legislation on Thursday, merely stating that it “could probe all sorts of activities… that would violate the sovereignty of the state.”
When plans to create the new authority were made public in September, a Fidesz party member suggested the measure could apply to “left-wing journalists, quasi-civil organizations,” and political parties.
Orban had recently complained at a party meeting that foreign actors were manipulating the levers of Hungarian society through civil society groups and media “financed by Brussels or through the Soros network.”
“They have openly stated that they want a change of government in Hungary,” he claimed earlier this year in a speech, accusing his detractors of utilising “every means of political corruption to finance the Hungarian opposition.”
Orban and other Fidesz parliamentarians have particularly accused the EU of interfering in the country’s political process by withholding €28 billion ($30 billion) in grants until 27 judicial, media, and economic reforms are implemented. While Brussels has often criticised Hungary of failing to meet EU requirements for the rule of law, Budapest has contended that such claims are political in nature.
Hungary earlier approved laws in 2017 targeting non-governmental organisations (NGOs) accepting foreign financing, which was denounced by the EU Court of Justice for allegedly adopting “discriminatory and unjustified” provisions.