George Soros’ Open Society Foundation said on Monday it would pull out of Turkey, days after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the US billionaire of trying to “divide and tear up nations.”
The organization, which has backed educational projects, women’s rights causes and democratic reform initiatives, said it was no longer possible to continue its work in Turkey after it had become the target of “baseless claims” in the media.
Among other things, the foundation has faced accusations of being behind the 2013 Gezi Park anti-government protests in Istanbul.
Erdogan has accused Soros of supporting Osman Kavala, a jailed Turkish financier and philanthropist whom the Turkish president blames for financing the “terrorists” the government holds responsible for the protests.
“And who is behind him? The famous Hungarian Jew Soros. This is a man who assigns people to divide and tear up nations,” Erdogan said.
Favorite far-right target
Erdogan made his remarks last week while speaking of the November 16 detention of 13 activists and academics accused of supporting Kavala’s attempts to revive the Gezi protests. Among those detained was Hakin Altinay, who helped establish the Open Society Foundation in Turkey.
Soros, 88, who funds philanthropic and pro-democracy projects across the world, has become a bogeyman for far-right extremists in many countries, including that of his birth, Hungary.
tj/msh (Reuters, AFP, AP)