George Soros' Open Society Foundation is gearing up to battle hate and the far-right in eastern Germany. The Alternative for Germany (AfD) is predicted to perform well in three upcoming state elections.
The foundation of American billionaire George Soros plans to expand operations in eastern Germany, where right-wing populists are strong, his Open Society Foundation said Friday.
"As a first step we will work with local partners in eastern Berlin and surrounding areas to launch an initiative to fight against hate crimes," said Selmin Caliskan, the director of the foundation's Berlin bureau on Friday. Details of the action will be released in the coming months.
The right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) is strongest in Germany's formerly communist east, where three states — Thuringia, Saxony and Brandenburg — hold elections in the fall.
The anti-immigration party made gains in the region in the European Parliament elections last month, emerging as a powerful political force in eastern Germany. The AfD is currently represented in Germany's federal parliament and every state legislature.
In light of the political landscape in eastern Germany, the Open Society Foundation is seeking to support organizations that promote an open, liberal and pluralistic Germany. According to Caliskan, the foundation supports more than 50 civil society organizations in Germany.
The Hungarian-born Soros has become a bête noire of the European far-right for his promotion of open borders and liberal causes.
Under pressure from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the Open Society Foundation closed its doors in Budapest last year and moved one of its main offices to Berlin.
cw/aw (dpa, Reuters)