Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has joined the chorus of European conservative leaders, accusing Hungarian-born American billionaire George Soros of "dividing nations" and "shattering" them.
Erdogan's comment came in response to the European Court of Human Rights's (ECHR) 20 November ruling on Selahattin Demirtas, the detained former co-chair of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), and Commissioner Dunja Mijatovic's intervention in the case of jailed Turkish civil society activist Osman Kavala. The ECHR challenged the decision of Turkish authorities and stated that Ankara had violated the European Convention on Human Rights.
"The person, who financed terrorists during the Gezi incidents, is currently in prison [Osman Kavala]. And who is behind him? The famous Hungarian Jew George Soros. This is a man who was assigned to divide nations and shatter them. He has so much money and he is spending it in these ways," Erdogan said as cited by Hurriyet Daily News.
It is not quite clear whether the Turkish president was disappointed by supposed Soros's meddling or rising tensions between Ankara and Brussels.
The purported improvement in relations between Turkey and the EU after the productive quadripartite Syria summit in Istanbul and Erdogan's visit to Paris on Armistice Day faced new challenges on November 20. According to Cengiz Candar of Al-Monitor, Article 90 of the Turkish Constitution stipulates that Ankara is obliged to implement the ECHR's ruling.
Soros Crossing Swords With the European Right
However, George Soros and his Open Society Foundations continue to provoke both lively debate and fierce criticism from the European Right.
In August 2018 Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban sent Soros's Open Society Foundations (OSF) packing. Earlier, the country's parliament passed a "Stop Soros" law that criminalizes the provision of assistance to illegal immigrants. The legislation was regarded as primarily targeting George Soros who has repeatedly come under Orban's criticism for the alleged interference in the country's affairs and elections through a network of NGOs.
"We are fighting an enemy that is different from us. Not open, but hiding; not straightforward but crafty; not honest but base; not national but international; does not believe in working but speculates with money; does not have its own homeland but feels it owns the whole world," the Hungarian prime minister said in a clear reference to the American billionaire in March 2018.
According to The Handelsblatt, the billionaire's endeavour has immediately come in the crosshairs of the ring-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD).
Petr Bystron, the AfD foreign policy spokesman, presumed that the OSF with its $1 billion annual budget was supposed to accomplish nothing less than influencing public opinion in Germany. "George Soros goes too far with his ideology of open borders," Bystron said, as quoted by the media outlet.
At the same time, the Italian interior minister and federal secretary of Lega Nord, Matteo Salvini, criticized the Hungarian-born investor on multiple occasions and slammed him as "speculator who 20 years ago caused one of the biggest Italian economic disasters."
Meanwhile, it seems that some British parliamentarians also hold an anti-Soros stance. Earlier this month, British conservative philosopher and Housing Commission chair Sir Roger Scruton found himself between a rock and a hard place when it emerged that he had referred to Budapest's Jewish community as part of the "Soros empire."
"Many of the Budapest intelligentsia are Jewish, and form part of the extensive networks around the Soros empire," Sir Roger Scruton allegedly noted.
A Soros-Facebook Spat
In addition to crossing swords with conservatives on the both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, George Soros has had a row with Facebook this year. As it turned out, Facebook's communications chief Elliot Schrage had hired Definers Public Affairs, a public relations firm, to counter-attack Soros following the billionaire's branding the social media platform as "menace to society" in January 2018 at Davos.
"The internet monopolies have neither the will nor the inclination to protect society against the consequences of their actions. That turns them into a menace and it falls to the regulatory authorities to protect society against them," Soros told the international forum referring to Facebook and Google and adding that "their days are numbered."
"We had not heard such criticism from him before and wanted to determine if he had any financial motivation," Schrage wrote in his blog.
One could argue whether Facebook suspicions were justified but since September 2018 the social media giant's stock has dramatically fallen losing almost 20 per cent. The American tycoon appeared to have insider's knowledge, as he managed to sell off his stake in Facebook before the crash.