The Malta Independent 16 December 2017, Saturday

Updated: Farage alleges collusion over Open Society funding; Miriam Dalli replies

Julian Bonnici Sunday, 26 November 2017, 08:30 Last update: about 19 days ago

Three Maltese MEPs - Miriam Dalli, Roberta Metsola and Therese Comodini Cachia - are named in the Open Society report entitled Mapping Reliable allies in the European Parliament (2014 - 2019) that was referred to by MEP and Brexit architect Nigel Farage during the European Parliament debate on the Paradise Papers, when he slammed his fellow parliamentarians for alleged collusion - something that has been resoundingly denied.

Open Society is a foundation established by Hungarian investor George Soros, with the aim of promoting liberal values and human rights causes. It provides financial support to civil society groups around the world, with the stated aim of advancing justice, education, public health and independent media.

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Soros is a controversial figure in Hungary, after coming into direct opposition with Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who is the subject of serious allegations concerning the rule of law, particularly on the European stage.

"When we are talking about offshore money, when we are talking about political subversion, when we are talking about collusion, I wonder if we are looking in the wrong place?", Farage said to jeers.

"And I say that because George Soros recently gave $18 billion to Open Society which, of course, campaigns for freedom of movement of people and supranational structures such as the European Union.

"I fear we could be looking at the biggest level of international, political collusion in history."

Farage claimed that, last year, Open Society held more than 40 meetings with the European Commission and he called for an investigation into his fellow MEPs to see whether they had received funding from Soros, as he referred to a document published by Open Society's European Policy Institute.

The document describes both Dalli and Metsola as "very keen on migration; also interested in asylum; gender equality; and all minority rights", with the latter also being described as "very interested in youth; strongly pro-European; and pragmatic."

Speaking to The Malta Independent on Sunday, a spokesman insisted that neither Metsola, nor anyone on her behalf, had ever had any form of communication with or been offered or accepted any funding from anyone remotely associated with George Soros.

He said that Metsola has "always stood up for the rule of law in places like Hungary and Malta, which has led far-right factions to try to smear her with all sorts of lies. It will not stop her from standing up for the rule of law."

In a statement to Euronews, Open Society said that "Pluralistic democracy requires debate and dialogue among a wide range of stakeholders, including elected representatives, public officials and civil society actors. Far from being a nefarious activity, as Mr Farage seems to think, such conversations are an important part of democratic policy debates. George Soros has never funded individual MEPs.

"The Open Society Foundation and George Soros, chairman, are proud of our work over several decades, including in the UK, to advance human rights, strengthen the rule of law and hold governments accountable to the people they serve."

Miriam Dalli reply

Speaking to The Malta Independent on Sunday, a spokesperson for Dalli said that "The document the former UKIP leader refers to, lists 11 committees, 26 delegations and 226 MEPs who are proven or likely Open Society allies. This is based on the work that the MEPs focus on in their daily work in the European Parliament, which includes the committees they are members of and the issues they push forward in the EP.

In fact, the document reads: “the presence of an MEP in this mapping indicates that they are likely to support Open Society’s work” – emphasis on “likely to support” which in itself indicates that it does not necessarily mean that an MEP might have benefitted from, met or worked with the Open Society Foundation.

MEP Miriam Dalli clarifies that she has never met, nor had any form of communication, with George Soros, or any of the representatives of the Open Society Foundation nor has she ever been offered, or accepted, any sort of funding whatsoever from them. 

Miriam Dalli will continue with her work, both in Malta and the European Union, standing up for what is right in the face of one-sided allegations.


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