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Statement Supporting NGOs in Hungary

May 03, 2017

Hands-upThose of you who check in with PND on a regular basis know (here, here, and here) that Viktor Orbán, the illiberal and increasingly authoritarian prime minister of Hungary, and lawmakers from the country's governing Fidesz party have launched a campaign to rid Hungary of liberal (and dissenting) voices. In addition to attacks on the press and political activists, the campaign has targeted nongovernmental organizations operating in the country with the help of foreign funding — with a particular focus on groups backed by the Open Society Foundations and its founder, Hungarian-born U.S. financier George Soros.

Last week, a group of funders led by the European Foundation Centre, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the Stefan Batory Foundation issued a statement in support of Hungarian NGOs and the broader values of "transparency in the public, private, and social sectors and the reasonable regulation of civil society organizations." We are pleased to share that statement, which has been signed by a coalition of more than eighty philanthropic and civil society leaders from Europe and the United States, below.


Statement Supporting NGOs in Hungary

As the leaders of private philanthropies in the United States and Europe, we are greatly concerned by the repeated efforts of the Hungarian government to restrict and stigmatize nongovernmental organizations operating in the public interest. This includes actions in recent years that have threatened the existence of organizations supported by Norwegian civil society grants and, more recently, steps that may force the closure of the Central European University. We are especially concerned with efforts to require entities that receive even modest international financial support to register as foreign-funded organizations and list this designation on their website and all publications, or face fines and potential closure.

We support transparency in the public, private, and social sectors and the reasonable regulation of civil society organizations, but some of the proposals currently under consideration go well beyond what is reasonable and would have the effect of discriminating against certain organizations and stigmatizing those that operate at world-class levels and are able to attract financial support from private foundations in Europe and globally. Hungarian law already requires all civil society organizations to report their sources of income and other support to the National Office for the Judiciary. We oppose public communications campaigns that undermine public trust in civil society organizations, falsely implying that such organizations in general, and those receiving foreign funding in particular, may be more prone to engaging in illegitimate activities than others. We are especially concerned that listing NGOs in a special registry of foreign-funded organizations may open the door to further, discriminatory treatment of these NGOs.

The ability to source funding from international donors is an important signal of the international quality and competitiveness of Hungarian NGOs, and it reflects Hungary’s solidarity with the European commitment to civil society. We hope the Hungarian government will honor the country’s and Europe’s commitment to the freedom of its citizens to form organizations, debate the issues of the day, and seek financial support from all legitimate sources.

Paweł Łukasiak, President of the Board
Academy for the Development of Philanthropy in Poland

Paul L. Joskow, President
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, USA

J. Bob Alotta, Executive Director
Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, USA

Michael Feigelson, Executive Director
Bernard Van Leer Foundation, Netherlands

Dimitris Vlastos, President
Bodossaki Foundation, Greece

Rogier van der Weerd, Managing Director
Adessium Foundation, Netherlands

Jason McGill & Annette Lanjouw,
Executive Directors
Arcus Foundation, USA

Helen Cadbury, Chair
Barrow Cadbury Trust, UK

Aart De Geus, Chairman & CEO
Bertelsmann Stiftung, Germany

Flemming Besenbacher, Chair
Carlsberg Foundation, Denmark

Vartan Gregorian, President
Carnegie Corporation of New York, USA

Vesna Bajsanski-Agic, Executive Director
Fondacija Mozaik, Bosnia and Herzegovina

John Massaar, Directeur
Fonds Schiedam Vlaardingen e.o., Netherlands

William White, Chairman & CEO
Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, USA

Cinthia Bianconi, President
Fondazione Adriano Olivetti, Italy

Benoît Mirabel, Director General
Foundation Merieux, France

Cameron Munter, President & CEO
East West Institute, USA

Nick Grono, Chief Executive Officer
Freedom Fund, UK

Horton Beebe-Center, President
Eurasia Foundation

Luigi Amore, Secretary General
Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Parma, Italy

Regan Ralph, President & CEO
Fund for Global Human Rights

Jenny Hodgson, Executive Director
Global Fund for Community Foundations

Katherine Watson, Director
European Cultural Foundation, Netherlands

Massimo Lapucci, Secretary General
Fondazione CRT, Italy

Jose Luis Martinez Donoso, General Director
Fundacion ONCE, Spain

Christopher Hartwell, President
Center for Social and Economic Research (CASE), Poland

Tonika Hirdman, Directrice Générale
Fondation de Luxembourg, Luxembourg

Darren Walker, President
Ford Foundation, USA

Piero Gastaldo, Secretary General
Compagnia di San Paolo, Italy

Mariacristina Cedrini,
Secretary General
Fondazione Bracco, Italy
Board Member
Bracco Suisse SA, Switzerland
Fondazione Milano per EXPO 2015, Italy

Ieva Morica, Executive Director
Foundation for an Open Society DOTS, Latvia

Jerzy Dietl, President
Educational Enterprise Foundation, Poland

Pia Gerber, Chief Executive
Freudenberg Stiftung GMBH, Germany

Christoph Wolff, Managing Director
European Climate Foundation, Netherlands

Marco Imperiale, Director General
Fondazione Con Il Sud, Italy

Rui Esgaio, Secretary-General
Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Portugal

Ulla Koski, President
Helsingin Sanomat Foundation, Finland

Dorota Komornicka, Board Chair
Federation of Community Foundations, Poland

Massimo Lanza, Governing Council of EFC
Fondazione di Venezia, Italy

Karen Donfried, President
German Marshall Fund of the U.S.

Randy Newcomb, President & CEO
Humanity United, USA

Kathleen Cravero, President
Oak Foundation, Switzerland

Zerrin Koyunsagan, General Manager
Sabanci Foundation, Turkey

Arto Mäenmaa, Executive Director
Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation, Finland

Christopher Stone, President
Open Society Foundations

Ewa Kulik-Bielińska, Executive Director
Stefan Batory Foundation, Poland

Luc Tayart de Borms, Managing Director
King Baudouin Foundation, Belgium

Moira Sinclair, Chief Executive
Paul Hamlyn Foundation, UK

Michael Schwarz, Executive Director
Stiftung Mercator GmbH, Germany

Anna Talasniemi, Executive Director
Kone Foundation, Finland

Uta-Micaela Dürig and Joachim Rogall,
Chief Executive Officers
Robert Bosch Stiftung, Germany

Anna Sienicka, Vice President
TechSoup Europe

Erdal Yildirim, President
Vehbi Koç Foundation, Turkey

Rupert Graf Strachwitz, Executive Director
Maecenata Foundation, Germany

Roxana Vitan, President
Romanian-American Foundation, Romania

Sarah Perrine, Chief Executive Officer
Trust for Social Achievement, Bulgaria

Wilhelm Krull, Secretary General
VolkswagenStiftung, Germany

Sandro Giuliani, Managing Director
Jacobs Foundation, Switzerland

Mall Hellam, Executive Director
Open Estonia Foundation, Estonia

Poonam Joshi, Executive Director
Sigrid Rausing Trust, UK

Nick Perks, Trust Secretary
Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, UK

Robert Basch, Executive Director
Open Society Fund Prague, Czech Republic

Boudewijn de Blij, Managing Director
Stichting Fonds 1818, Netherlands

Jean Paul Warmoes, Executive Director
King Baudouin Foundation, USA

Adriana Esmeijer, Director
Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Netherlands

Göran Blomqvist, Chief Executive Officer
Stiftelsen Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, Sweden

Thomas Paulsen, Executive Board Member
Körber-Stiftung, Germany

Stephen Heintz, President
Rockefeller Brothers Fund, USA

Bharat Mehta, Chief Executive
Trust for London, UK

Oksana Oracheva, General Director
Vladimir Potanin Foundation, Russia

Charlene Lea, Chief Executive Officer
NGENA Foundation, USA

Piotr Szczepański, President
Rural Development Foundation, Poland

André Betting, Executive Director
Van Leer Group Foundation, Netherlands

Michael Göring, President
ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius, Germany

Foundation networks and supporting organizations

Vikki Spruill, President & CEO
Council on Foundations

James Magowan, Coordinating Director
Donors and Foundations Networks in Europe (DAFNE)

Gerard Salole, Chief Executive
European Foundation Centre

Deborah Doane, Director
Funders Initiative for Civil Society

Peggy Saïller, Executive Director
Network of European Foundations

Rien van Gendt, Director
Van Gendt Philanthropy Services, Netherlands

Benjamin Bellegy, Executive Director
Worldwide Initiatives for Grantmaker Support (WINGS)


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