Hungary attacks Soros, EU Commission chief in anti-immigration campaign

EU dismisses as ‘fake news’ Budapest’s claims that, along with philanthropist, it plans to facilitate illegal immigration by using migrant visas, enforce settlement quota

This photo taken on July 5, 2017 in Budapest, shows an anti-Soros campaign reading "99 percent reject illegal migration" and “Let’s not allow Soros to have the last laugh”. (AP Photo/Pablo Gorondi)
This photo taken on July 5, 2017 in Budapest, shows an anti-Soros campaign reading "99 percent reject illegal migration" and “Let’s not allow Soros to have the last laugh”. (AP Photo/Pablo Gorondi)

BUDAPEST, Hungary — Hungary launched a new anti-immigration media campaign on Tuesday in which it accused George Soros and EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker of allegedly supporting illegal migration, which Brussels immediately dismissed as “fake news.”

According to the Hungarian government’s Facebook page, the media blitz — funded with taxpayers’ money — is expected to include billboard posters featuring images of the liberal US billionaire Soros and a smiling Juncker above the words: “You, too, have a right to know what Brussels is preparing.”

“They want to bring in the mandatory settlement quota; weaken member states’ rights to border defense; facilitate immigration with a migrant visa,” it continues.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s right-wing government, which has frequently clashed with the EU on migration, has regularly undertaken similar campaigns in the past, including “Let’s Stop Brussels” and “Don’t let Soros have the last laugh.”

In recent years, Orban has blasted the Hungarian-born 88-year-old Jewish philanthropist and investor as a “public enemy” for allegedly backing uncontrolled mass immigration.

At the same time, Orban’s government has frequently been accused of using anti-Semitic tropes and imagery in its campaigns against Soros, claims it denies.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, left, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, February 19, 2019. (Amos Ben Gershom)

Orban was in Israel Tuesday where he held talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and announced that Hungary will open a trade office in Jerusalem.

In recent months, pro-Orban media have also attacked Dutch MEP Judith Sargentini — the author of a critical report about Hungary that formed the basis of EU legal action against Budapest — and Juncker’s deputy Frans Timmermans.

“Brussels continues to want to support illegal immigration,” Zoltan Kovacs, a government spokesperson, told reporters in Budapest Tuesday.

“Hungarians need to know about this, that’s why the latest information campaign has been launched,” he said, denying it is part of the upcoming European Parliament election campaign.

Kovacs said plans in “drawers in Brussels” included hikes in financial funding of NGOs and the creation of a special migration fund.

An Israeli man holds banners with messages referring to Hungary’s involvement in the Holocaust, as he demonstrates outside the hotel in Jerusalem where Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban met with his Israeli counterpart, on February 19, 2019. (AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP)

EU Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas dismissed the campaign as “fake news.”

“The Hungary government campaign beggars belief,” he told a briefing in Brussels.

“It is shocking that such a ludicrous conspiracy theory has reached the mainstream to the extent it has. There is no conspiracy, Hungarians deserve facts not fiction,” he said.

Commission Vice President Timmermans also ripped Orban over the new campaign, saying when it comes to spinning the truth in political campaigning “this is something in a completely different universe.”

Timmermans said the EU and Juncker were actually at the forefront of reinforcing the EU’s external borders.

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