National Consultation on the “Soros Plan”

National Consultation questionnaire.

On September 13, 2017, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced to members of the FideszChristian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) National Assembly coalition that the government would conduct a National Consultation on the “Soros Plan” pertaining to the European migrant crisis (source in Hungarian).

On September 23, Prime Ministerial Cabinet Office State Secretary Bence Tuzson officially confirmed that the government would soon launch a National Consultation on the “Soros Plan” (source in Hungarian). Also on this date, the government began broadcasting advertisements on state-run Hungarian Television regarding “György Soros’s dangerous plan” (source in Hungarian).

On September 28, 2017, government spokesman Zoltán Kovács announced that government would begin mailing National Consultation questionnaires during the second week of October (source in Hungarian).

The Orbán government has held a total of seven National Consultations including the National Consultation on the “Soros Plan.”

In these National Consultations, the government mails questionnaires on various topics to all of the approximately eight million adult citizens of Hungary. Respondents can return these questionnaires postage-free to the Prime Ministerial Cabinet Office, which assumed the duty of conducting the National Consultations from the Prime Ministry in October 2015. Respondents can also fill out National Consultation questionnaires on the official government website (see on-line questionnaire in Hungarian ).

The Orbán government uses the results of these National Consultation questionnaires, which are phrased in order to ensure that an overwhelming majority of respondents will select the government-supported answer, in order to demonstrate that its policies reflect the popular will of the citizens of Hungary (see National Consultation on Immigration and Terrorism and The “Let’s Stop Brussels!” National Consultation).

Letter of Introduction

The National Consultation questionnaire on the “Soros Plan” included the following letter of introduction from Prime Minister Viktor Orbán:

My Esteemed Compatriot!

Prime Minister Orbán’s letter of introduction (click to enlarge).

I am writing to You about a matter that fundamentally influences everyday life, the security and the future of Hungary.

We have always believed in straight talk, we have never disguised the fact that we have a serious disagreement with György Soros, one of the most influential billionaires in the world. We are now raising our voices, because György Soros has a dangerous plan, which an extensive network is working to implement.

On the basis of the Soros plan, they would settle 1 million immigrants in Europe per year and they would distribute the settled migrants among the member states. Hungary would also have to take part in this. According to the plan, they would give each immigrant 9 million forints from the money of the taxpayers.

The fact that numerous leaders in Brussels support and represent this plan makes it truly dangerous. If it is implemented, Hungary’s culture and population would change in an irreversible way.

It is clearly visible that an enormous fusillade has come down upon those countries that resist the Soros plan. They want to punish Hungary because we are defending ourselves and at the same time all of Europe with a fence. They want to force us to dismantle the fence and to accept as many illegal immigrants as they prescribe.

The Soros plan endangers our communities and our traditions. It endangers Hungary and all of that Europe with which we have become acquainted and which we love.

It is precisely for this reason that the time for joint action has again arrived. I ask that you participate in the national consultation and fill out the enclosed questionnaire.

We are counting on your opinion!

Respectfully,

Viktor Orbán

Prime Minister of Hungary

Questionnaire

The National Consultation questionnaire on the “Soros Plan” consists of the following seven questions (see original questionnaire in Hungarian): 

1. György Soros wants to persuade Brussels to settle at least one million immigrants from Africa and the Middle East per year on the territory of the European Union, thus in Hungary as well.

Soros has been working for many years to change Europe and European societies. He wants to reach his goals through the settlement of masses of people from other civilizational backgrounds. In the introduction of his plan, he put it this way: “the EU has to accept at least a million asylum-seekers annually for the foreseeable future” (Project Syndicate, 09-26-2015). The European Parliament advocates a similar point of view. The body supported the resettlement programs as well as the establishment of immigration routes (2015/2342 (IN))

Do you support this point of the Soros plan? YES NO

2. György Soros along with leaders in Brussels together want to get European Union member states, thus Hungary as well, to dismantle border-protection barriers and to open frontiers to immigrants.

Well-guarded borders represent effective protection against illegal immigration. It is not by accident that dismantling the border-protection barriers is one of the important goals of the Soros plan. In this way, the borders would be opened to illegal immigrants. The billionaire put it this way, “our plan treats the protection of refugees as the objective and national borders as the obstacle” (Bloomberg Business, 10-30-2015).

Do you support this point of the Soros plan? YES NO

3. Part of the Soros plan is that Brussels will mandatorily distribute immigrants gathered in Western European countries with particular regard to Eastern European countries. Hungary must participate in this.

György Soros wrote the following about the distribution of the immigrants: “if this does not become permanent and mandatory feature of the common European asylum system, it will fall apart” (Financial Times, 07-26-2015). In 2015 a decision was made in Brussels that as a first step Hungary must accept 1,294 immigrants. In 2016, the European Commission made a proposal that would enable the distribution of an unlimited number of immigrants (IP/16/1620). The union’s Migration and Refugee Affairs Agency has also stood up in a unanimous manner for the proposal of György Soros, which further weakens the national sphere of authority in the question of immigration. If the settlement quotas become valid, Hungarians will no longer have a say in whom they want to live with in the future.

Do you support this point of the Soros plan? YES NO

4. On the basis of the Soros plan, Brussels should oblige all member states, thus Hungary as well, to pay all immigrants 9 million forints in state assistance.

According to Soros, significant sums [of money] should be spent on the immigrants. “The EU should provide 15,000 euros per asylum-seeker for each of the first two years to help cover housing, health care, and education costs – and to make accepting refugees more appealing to member states” (Project Syndicate, 09-26-2015). According to the billionaire, this sum [of money] should be raised through credit. Soros believes that tax increases are necessary in order to repay the credit: the billionaire would raise the VAT as well as the taxes imposed on gasoline consumption and tourism. Last year in Brussels, Soros also proposed that agricultural and cohesion support for Central European countries be reduced in the interest of resolving the EU migration crisis.

Do you support this point of the Soros plan? YES NO

5. György Soros also wants to make it so that migrants receive more lenient punishment for crimes that they have committed.

György Soros provides significant sums [of money] to organizations that assist immigration and defend immigrants who have committed unlawful acts. One such [organization], for example, is the Helsinki Committee, which in connection with the prohibited crossing of the border barrier argued that “the application of serious legal consequences in connection to unlawful entry can be regarded as worrisome.” Another Soros organization, Amnesty International, on several occasions demanded the release of the Ahmed H., who attacked Hungarian police defending the border with rocks and was convicted for this reason. Amnesty would even have the Hungarian state pay compensation.

Do you support this point of the Soros plan? YES NO

6. The goal of the Soros plan is to have the language and culture of the European countries to be pushed into the background so that the integration of illegal immigrants can take place sooner.

György Soros wrote in his book entitled “The Open Society” that “the decline in the authority of the nation states can be qualified as a development to be welcomed.” Soros also wrote openly that we should not give up our conviction that migration does good for Europe. He summoned non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and companies to be the sponsors of immigration. He also talked about how the continent must finally take active steps in the interest of forming open societies. In certain European countries and multinational companies they have already begun to remove European, Christian symbols so that they “do not offend the sensibilities of immigrants.”

Do you support this point of the Soros plan? YES NO

7. Part of the Soros plan is to launch an attack on countries that oppose immigration and to impose heavy punishments on them.

The main obstacles to the implementation of the Soros plan are those governments that stand up for national independence and take action against illegal immigration. György Soros cannot today bring one million immigrants into Europe because there are governments that protest against this. The Hungarian government is complying with the Schengen agreement when it defends the borders and builds a fence, thus making implementation of the Soros plan more difficult. Soros and several decision-makers in Brussels are attacking our homeland for this reason. According to the proposal of the European Commission, those member states that do not participate in the settlement program would have to pay a penalty of 78 million forints for every immigrant. (2016/0133 (COD)) A Hungarian employee works for decades for a sum [of money] of this size.

Do you support this point of the Soros plan? YES NO

The “Soros Plan”

The “Soros Plan” cited in the Orbán government’s National Consultation questionnaire refers to measures that George Soros proposed to manage the European migrant crisis in the following writings: an article published in the Financial Times on July 16, 2015 under the title “By failing to help refugees, Europe fails itself”; an article published on the Project Syndicate website on September 26, 2015 under the title “Rebuilding the Asylum System”; and an e-mail statement published on the Bloomberg News website on October 30, 2015 (sources A, B and C in English).

Financial Times

In the July 16, 2015 Financial Times article, Soros cited three elements of the European Commission’s proposed response to the migrant crisis: “a military mission targeting smugglers in the Mediterranean”; “a robust effort to return migrants who are found not to qualify for international protection”; and “a mandatory plan to take 40,000 asylum seekers from Greece and Italy to be processed in other member states.”

Soros asserted in the Financial Times article that “These programmes embody the spirit of shared responsibility that lies at the heart of the EU. If they do not become permanent and mandatory features of the common European asylum system, it will fall apart.”

Question three of the National Consultation questionnaire on the “Soros Plan” transformed the latter sentence from the plural to the singular, thus narrowing its reference to just one of the three cited elements of the European Commission plan to manage the migrant crisis: “György Soros wrote the following about the distribution of the immigrants: ‘if this does not become a permanent and mandatory feature of the common European asylum system, it will fall apart’ (Financial Times, 07-26-2015).”

Bloomberg News

In the October 30, 2015 e-mail statement published on the Bloomberg News website, Soros differentiated the plan of Viktor Orbán to manage the migration crisis from his plan: “His plan treats the protection of national borders as the objective and the refugees as an obstacle. Our plan treats the protection of refugees as the objective and national borders as the obstacle.”

Question two of the National Consultation questionnaire refers to this statement.

Project Syndicate

In the September 26, 2015 Project Syndicate article, Soros contended that “The EU needs a comprehensive plan to respond to the [migrant] crisis, one that reasserts effective governance over the flows of asylum-seekers so that they take place in a safe, orderly way, and at a pace that reflects Europe’s capacity to absorb them.”

Soros identified six components of this “comprehensive plan.”  Referring to the first component of this plan, Soros wrote:

The EU has to accept at least a million asylum-seekers annually for the foreseeable future. And, to do that, it must share the burden fairly . . .

Adequate financing is critical. The EU should provide €15,000 ($16,800) per asylum-seeker for each of the first two years to help cover housing, health care, and education costs—and to make accepting refugees more appealing to member states. It can raise these funds by issuing long-term bonds using its largely untapped AAA borrowing capacity, which will have the added benefit of providing a justified fiscal stimulus to the European economy

The “comprehensive plan” that Soros presented in the Project Syndicate article also proposed that the European Union take the following measures to manage the migrant crisis: provide funding to Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan to help support refugees living in those countries; establish a common Asylum and Migration Agency and Border Guard; ensure safe channels of migration in order to “calm the panic” and reduce the number of people making the “dangerous Mediterranean crossing”; and mobilize non-governmental organizations, church groups and businesses to “act as sponsors.” Finally, Soros stated in the article that these measures should serve as “global standards for the treatment of asylum-seekers and migrants.”

Questions one and three of the National Consultation questionnaire refer to the first component of this “comprehensive plan” to “accept at least a million asylum-seekers annually for the foreseeable future” and “provide €15,000 ($16,800) per asylum-seeker for each of the first two years.”

Other Articles

Soros published two subsequent articles regarding the European Union’s response to the migration crisis—the first on the Project Syndicate website on April 10, 2016 under the title “Bringing Europe’s Migration Crisis under Control” and the second on the Foreign Policy website on July 19, 2016 under the title “This Is Europe’s Last Chance to Fix Its Refugee Policy” (source A and B in English).

In these articles, both published after the March 2016 agreement between the European Union and Turkey to decrease the number of migrants traveling across the Aegean Sea from the latter country to Greece, Soros reduced the number of refugees the EU would have to accept under his proposals from one million per year to “a firm and reliable annual target of 300,000–500,000 refugees” and “a guaranteed target of at least 300,000 refugees each year.”

On September 27, 2017, Prime Ministerial Cabinet Office State Secretary Bence Tuzson said that the government had used the larger number in its National Consultation on the “Soros Plan” because “the number of one million returns regularly in European thinking and György Soros’s most important written statement referred to this as well” (source in Hungarian).

Amnesty International and Helsinki Committee Response

Question five of the National Consultation questionnaire on the “Soros Plan” cited Amnesty International and the Helsinki Committee as examples of Soros-supported organizations “that assist immigration and defend immigrants who have committed unlawful acts”:

One such [organization], for example, is the Helsinki Committee, which in connection with the prohibited crossing of the border barrier argued that “the application of serious legal consequences in connection to unlawful entry can be regarded as worrisome.” Another Soros organization, Amnesty International, on several occasions demanded the release of the Ahmed H., who attacked Hungarian police defending the border with rocks and was convicted for this reason. Amnesty would even have the Hungarian state pay compensation.

On September 28, 2017, both the Hungarian Helsinki Committee and Amnesty International Hungary responded to their citation in this National Consultation questionnaire.

The Hungarian Helsinki Committee wrote (source in Hungarian):

We consider it to be outrageous that they accuse our organization, which for decades has been assisting asylum-seekers, of wanting to absolve anybody whatsoever of criminal acts.

We continue to believe that punishing refugees with imprisonment just because they have transgressed the border barrier is a disproportional and excessive vehicle that is also inconsistent with the Geneva Convention.

Amnesty International Hungary wrote (source in Hungarian):

Amnesty International Hungary and the Hungarian Helsinki Committee have received enormous recognition, we have been included by name in the most recent National Consultation!!! The government has accused us of the following:

1. we on several occasions demanded the release of Ahmed H. (correction: we find the act of terror to be unfounded and absurd)

2. who attacked Hungarian police with rocks . . . (correction: the verdict did not state that he attacked police (threw in their direction) and does not even mention rocks (solid objects)

3. and would have the Hungarian state pay compensation. (Gyula Budai [Fidesz National Assembly representative] devised this, though we have no idea where he came up with it)

+1. we are not a Soros organization (whatever this means)

Soros Response

On September 29, 2017, spokesman Csaba Csontos of the Soros-founded, -funded and -chaired Open Society Foundations told the opposition website hvg.hu that all seven of the questions on the National Consultation questionnaire were either inaccurate or unfounded (source in Hungarian).

Csontos stated with regard to the claim in the National Consultation questionnaire that “György Soros wants to persuade Brussels to settle at least one million immigrants from Africa and the Middle East per year on the territory of the European Union”:

György Soros wrote about one million immigrants per year in a 2015 article, though there was never any question of “persuasion” or settlement. Soros was writing about managing the situation. At that time around that many refugees had arrived and he based this on the premise that the course of events would continue at this level. He continually decreased this number. In his most recent—July 2016—article he modified this number to 300,000.

On October 3, 2017, an unidentified spokesman for Soros told the Financial Times that “There is no such thing as a global conspiracy against Hungary orchestrated by George Soros. . . .We regret that the government is spending over $3m of public money to play on instincts of fear and hatred to manipulate Hungarian voters six months ahead of the parliamentary election” (source in English).

Orbán on the “Soros Plan”

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán described the “Soros Plan” during a Hungarian Radio interview on April 28, 2017 (source in Hungarian):

So György Soros published his own migration program. In this he wrote, espoused publicly in his own name, that every year one million migrants must be transported into the union, that this must be financed and that he would gladly give a loan—he added this as well. And since then they have been working to dismantle the Hungarian fence, to change the laws protecting Hungary, to denigrate Hungary in every possible international forum and to force it through international pressure to nevertheless allow migrants to enter and pass through [the country]. This is what György Soros the financial speculator has done after becoming György Soros the pro-immigration European politician and we must rise in opposition to this.

Prime Minister Orbán said with regard to the “Soros Plan” during another Hungarian Radio interview on October 6, 2017 (source in Hungarian):

The starting point of the whole thing was when the dispute began between Brussels and Hungary. At that time, I published a multi-point plan about how Europe should be defended and I made proposals to the union. In response, György Soros published another plan, breaking it down into points just like me, about what must be done. Now those in Brussels can say that they aren’t interested in György Soros’s written work, a claim that is undermined somewhat by the fact that they regularly receive him and for some mysterious reason consult with him, though the happenings that take place in actual life progress precisely according to how György Soros set it out in publicly. . . . We are not dupes. This is a country with serious people and a serious history and, horribile dictu, with a serious government whose task it is to understand what is going on. And we understand what is going on. György Soros bought people, bought organizations and they are eating from his hand. Brussels is under his influence and the Brussels mechanism is implementing his plan with regard to the affair called immigration. They want to dismantle the fence, they want to let to let immigrants in by the millions and want to mandatorily distribute them.

Navracsics on the “Soros Plan”

On September 29, 2017, the Orbán government’s representative on the European Commission—European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth Tibor Navracsics—stated with regard to the “Soros Plan” (source in Hungarian):

I consider this to be a rhetorical element of the coming election campaign. There is no such thing in the European Commission—we don’t talk about such a thing and no such task appears in the working plan of the European Commission” .

On October 9, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán responded to European Commissioner Navracsics’s denial: “I know very well. The European Commission is implementing the Soros Plan. That is, Tibor Navracsics is mistaken” (source in Hungarian).

Government Publicity Campaign

National Consultation advertisement in Budapest (photo: Orange Files).

On September 19, 2017, Prime Ministerial Cabinet Office Parliamentary State Secretary Csaba Dömötör announced that the Orbán government would conduct a publicity campaign connected to the National Consultation designed to acquaint citizens with the main aspects of the “Soros Plan.”

Dömötör said the campaign would include billboard signs and television and internet advertisements that would cost approximately the same amount of money the government’s previous National Consultation publicity campaigns (source in Hungarian).

According to data from the Prime Ministerial Cabinet Office, the government paid 7.25 billion forints (23.5 million euros) for the three publicity campaigns it conducted in connection to the “Let’s Stop Brussels!” National Consultation in the spring and summer of 2017 (source in Hungarian).

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