Billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros is planning to give $100 million to support nonprofits in central and eastern Europe working to help the poor affected by the global economic downturn, the Financial Times reports.
The commitment from the Hungarian-born Soros, who has given more than $3 billion to groups in the region since the fall of communism, will provide support for organizations that work with children and youth, provide shelter to individuals in need, and help cultural institutions at risk of failing. According to the Financial Times, the funding will be focused on countries struggling with deep recessions.
In an announcement made after the FT story ran, the Open Society Institute, which Soros chairs, announced that the one-time gift will be spent over the next two years in some or all of the following countries: Albania, Armenia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Tajikistan, and Ukraine. Soros foundations in those twenty countries will work with a committee of individuals to evaluate the severity of the economic crisis in each country and consider funding proposals.
In the interview with Times, Soros called on the European Union to provide greater support for the region — especially non-EU member countries such as Ukraine — to help boost social spending and defuse growing political extremism in the region. "The EU must do more in terms of providing support, including financial support," said Soros. "The International Monetary Fund programs [launched in Hungary, Ukraine, Latvia, and about five other countries] are very severe in terms of cutting budgets. The EU must solidify support for EU values."