Freedom House is a remarkable and largely admirable organisation. Over the years it has done some great work challenging governments with a tendency towards the authoritarian. Yet its attacks on the government of Hungary are increasingly off-kilter.
Regular readers will recall that the Hungarian government differs from the German government in believing that it is not desirable to invite the entire developing world to come and live in your country. The Hungarian government – led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban – also differs from the views of Hungary’s wealthiest son, George Soros, who along with the numerous NGOs that he funds has spent recent years undermining the borders of Europe, and specifically the borders of Hungary. When Orban criticised Soros in 2015, the multi-billionaire responded by clarifying the difference between himself and Orban thus:
‘[Orban’s] 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.’
Anyhow – in recent weeks the Hungarian government has upped its campaign against Soros and his NGOs. This has included a nationwide billboard advertising campaign in the country. About which, as with much of the rest of the behaviour of the Orban government, there is much to say. But here is the response of Freedom House. According to Michael J Abramowitz, the president of Freedom House:
‘The government of Hungary has resorted to tactics reminiscent of the darkest days of dictatorship in its vilification of refugees, and civil society organisations that advocate an orderly, humane policy of immigration.’
To which the first thing to say is, if the migration of recent years is an ‘orderly’ transition of refugees then I would hate to see what Freedom House would define as disorderly.