In early November, billionaire George Soros placed a phone call to the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) director Daniela Schwarzer, asking her to intervene with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to prevent Hungary’s Commissioner-designate from receiving the new European Commission’s enlargement and neighbourhood portfolio, Hungarian daily Magyar Nemzet reports, citing reliable national security sources.
During the phone conversation, the influential stock exchange speculator argued that allowing the Hungarian government to delegate a commissioner to the post in question would fatally undermine the external credibility of the European integration. Soros bolstered his argument by stressing that Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban maintained too close ties with Russia and Turkey, which could pose a risk to the EU, the V4 news agency reports.
Schwarzer wasn’t caught off guard by the phone call because she personally knows Soros. The two conduct regular phone conversations every few months as the billionaire’s Open Society Foundations network is one of DGAP’s sponsors. However, she was surprised by Soros’s request and tried to explain that “things don’t quite work like this”.
She told Soros that she could make a phone call to the Chancellor, but ruled out the possibility of giving her such direct political advice. George Soros had a hard time accepting the refusal and kept trying to persuade Schwarzer, citing the gravity of the case. According to sources close to the paper, Schwarzer decided not to intervene and Hungarian candidate Oliver Varhelyi was on track to become enlargement commissioner.
This is not the first time that George Soros had meddled in European Union affairs. The Hungarian government originally nominated Hungary’s former Justice Minister Laszlo Trocsanyi to the new Commission headed by Ursula von der Leyen, but – due to EU procedures launched against Hungary, partly based on the accusations by Soros’s network – the European Parliament’s justice committee (LIBE) rejected his appointment. Ahead of his hearing Trocsanyi’s potential appointment had been criticised by several left-wing and liberal MEPs and the Helsinki Committee, an NGO financed by Soros’s Open Society Foundations.