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Soros University Suspends Programmes for Migrants Due to Hungarian Anti-Propaganda Tax

George Soros, Chairman of Soros Fund Management, listens during a seminar titled "Charting A New Growth Path for the Euro Zone" at the annual International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings September 24, 2011 in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Budapest’s Central European University (CEU), founded by left-wing billionaire George Soros, has ceased offering courses for asylum seekers after Hungary passed legislation taxing pro-migrant activities.

CEU announced Tuesday it had suspended the Open Learning Initiative (OLIve) for registered refugees and asylum seekers as well as the administration of the EU-funded Marie Curie Research Grant project on migration policy in Central and Southern Europe.

The institution said in a statement on its website that it has been “forced to take this action in response to Hungarian legislation in respect of refugees and immigration which came into effect on August 24” and its decision “follows advice from our tax advisors in respect of potential liability for a 25% levy on our immigration related programs”.

“We are suspending these programs while we await clarification of our tax and legal situation.”

After conservative Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán won his third consecutive term in office in April, gaining a parliamentary supermajority, his government passed legislation in June as part of the “Stop Soros” package which levies a 25 percent tax on organisations which support or promote illegal migration.

The law defines support for illegal migration as including conducting media campaigns, “organising education”, building networks, and “participating in propaganda activities that present immigration in a favourable light”.

This is the second blow to the CEU’s attempts at spreading its progressive agenda in the traditional, conservative nation this month after the Hungarian government announced in early August that it would discontinue programmes in gender studies, determining the courses were based on “ideology rather than science”.

Only two institutions — the CEU and the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest (ELTE) — offer gender studies to graduate level.

The university, founded by Soros in 1991 in Prague before moving to the Hungarian capital in 1993, claimed last year that it was being attacked by Orbán after the Fidesz-KDNP government put forward legislation that would force foreign-registered universities to come under full Hungarian legal compliance and adhere to new transparency laws.

CEU had said it would leave Hungary in May 2018, but announced one month later it would stay.

Meanwhile, Soros’s civil society network the Open Society Foundations announced in May that it would be closing its Budapest office and would be moving operations to Berlin, Germany. The decision came in response to the conservative government’s crackdown on foreign-funded NGOs which are considered to be interfering in Hungary’s national policies.

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