George Soros, founder and chairman of the Open Society Foundations in 2017. EPA/OLIVIER HOSLET / POOL


‘We are not leaving Europe’, confirms Soros heir


In an opinion piece for US-based news outlet Politico, American philanthropist Alex Soros, who recently took over leadership of the Open Society Foundations (OSF) from his father George, insisted his progressive activist organisation will remain very much engaged in Europe.

The OSF, founded by George Soros, financially supports Left-wing civil society groups around the world, with the self-stated aim of advancing justice, education, public health and independent media.

Earlier reporting had indicated that the OSF was to end a large part of its European operations, causing fearful reactions on the Left and hopeful ones on the Right.

Alex Soros is (in)famous for generously supporting all kinds of progressive organisations and causes. He also takes the fight to conservatives across the European continent and especially in Hungary.

The news that the Left might lose one of their most important funders caused consternation but Soros has moved to soothe progressive tempers in an open letter.

“We are not leaving. Europe remains of huge strategic importance to the work of OSF, which began in the 1980s, when my father started funding independent thinkers in his native Hungary,” he said.

He stated that the foundation needed to change its approach, given what he said was the current state of Europe.

“In broad terms, in Europe we are witnessing a shift to the East. The war in Ukraine will have untold consequences, while the rise of Poland as a leading economy will eventually make it a net contributor to the EU,” he said.

“The future of accountable, democratic government in Europe is now being determined not just in Paris and Berlin but also in Warsaw, Kyiv and Prague.”

As a consequence, he said, the OSF will engage in new domains. “And yes, we will also be reducing our headcount significantly, seeking to ensure more money goes out to where it’s most needed.”

Insisting that was not a sign of the organisation moving out of Europe, he said the OSF will operate in countries that work towards EU accession, especially in the Balkans.

“We will also keep up – and dramatically increase – our efforts to secure equal treatment for Europe’s largest ethnic minority, the 12 million Roma [who mostly live in Eastern Europe],” he added.

Soros also spoke about the possibility of a conservative victory in the US elections, warning Europe that a figure like former President Donald Trump or someone similar might become the Republican nominee.

“I believe a MAGA [Make America Great Again]-style Republican victory in next year’s US presidential election could, in the end, be worse for the EU than for the US.

“Such an outcome will imperil European unity and undermine the progress achieved on many fronts in response to the war in Ukraine,” he said.

“We are adapting OSF to be able to respond to whatever scenarios might emerge, on both sides of the Atlantic.”

He concluded by stating that it was his “great hope that OSF, in its reconfigured form, will be able to help the European project realise its full promise”.

Soros’s letter confirms reporting from Brussels Signal revealing a Soros-backed company taking a majority shareholding in the daily Rzeczpospolita, one of the most influential newspapers in Poland, just weeks before national elections, and thus illustrating the new focus of the OSF on fighting conservatives in the East.