Szilárd Németh says transparency is key to regulating NGOs

January 13, 2017

János Lázár, Minister Overseeing the Office of the Prime Minister

Speaking in parliament last Tuesday, Fidesz deputy chairman and MP Szilárd Németh declared war on “pseudo civil organizations” funded by George Soros.  Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Németh acknowledged that “perhaps he had expressed himself a bit strongly” when he said on Tuesday that the government needed to “use every means to repulse the pseudo-civil organizations of the Soros empire,” but that his point of view remained the same.

In a statement given to the Hungarian news service (MTI), Németh said the key is “transparency.”

“We want to make it clear to the Hungarian people who is who, who these organizations are, whose interests they represent, and what resources they operate from, how the leaders of these organizations live, and whence they get their money,” he said, hastening to add that  99.9 percent of NGOs were alright in that they are not financed by great powers or requested to exercise “brutal pressure” on the freely elected Hungarian parliament.

Németh believes “pseudo-NGOs” pose “a national security threat” to Hungary, and that if their activities are “contrary to the interests of Hungarian people, then they have no place in Hungary.”  When asked whether it was in the interests of Hungarian people for Transparency International (TI) to struggle against corruption, he responded by saying that it was in the interests of Hungarian people for everyone to struggle against it, adding that the asset declarations of civil organizations should be taken just as seriously as those of politicians.  While he considers his own asset declarations to be beyond reproach, the Fidesz deputy chairman and MP acknowledged that those of some of his colleagues were occasionally deficient.

At his weekly Kormányinfo marathon press conference on Thursday, Minister Overseeing the Office of the Prime Minister János Lázár asked for understanding when it comes to “declarations on the national side” which he said is “sensitive to activities attempting to influence Hungary,” reports 444.hu.

Lázár believes last year’s illegal migration to the Hungarian border was organized by a foreign organization, pointing out that George Soros regards himself as an opponent of the Hungarian government, which is also a “sensitive subject for those on the side of the nation.”  For this reason, the minister said Németh had acted appropriately in wanting to know who wishes to influence the life of Hungary.

However, Lázár said there was no question of “sweeping away” civil organizations, but that whoever wants to influence public life should be forced to undertake transparency.  He said the whole world is moving in this direction and cited the hacking of the US election as an example of an attempt to exercise influence.

Lázár mentioned that political parties are forbidden from receiving donations from abroad, but that this rule did not apply to civil organizations engaged in politics.

He could not say anything concrete about proposals the Justice Ministry is preparing in connection with civil society.