Republican senators implore Tillerson to cut Soros-funding
Six US Republican senators have asked the State Department to review US aid to NGOs run by billionaire George Soros, citing Macedonia and Albania as the most recent worrying examples of conflict-sowing interventionist policies in the Balkan.
Published: March 17, 2017, 7:41 am
In a letter sent to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson this week, the lawmakers express concern over reports that US foreign aid has been channeled to support “left-leaning parties” and the “progressive agenda”, with reports of similar US interventions in Africa and Latin America as well, according to the senators.
Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) leading a group of like-minded colleagues are calling on Tillerson to step in and investigate how US taxpayer funds are being disbursed via the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to support Soros-backed, leftist agitator groups in several Eastern European countries including Macedonia and Albania.
Potentially millions of US taxpayer dollars land with Soros’ Open Society Foundations, in order to fund left-leaning agitators, including the Platform for Citizens Oriented Politics, Journalists for Human Rights, and an LGBT Support Center, all of which go towards promoting civil unrest.
Senator Lee told Fox News that foreign officials and political leaders have also come to him with “reports of US activity in their respective countries”.
Other Republican signatories of the letter to Tillerson include James Inhofe of Oklahoma, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, David Perdue of Georgia, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, urging the Secretary of State to investigate allegations that the Obama administration funneled taxpayer money to fund the Soros agenda.
“Unfortunately, we have received a credible report that, over the past few years, the US Mission there has actively intervened in the party politics of Macedonia, as well as in the shaping of its media environment and civil society, often favoring left-leaning political group over others. We find these reports discoraging and, if true, highly problematic.”
“Much of the concerning activity in Macedonia has been perpetuated through USAID funds awarded to implementing entities such as George Soros’ Open Society Foundations. As the recipient of multiple grant awards and serving as a USAID contractor implementing projects in this small nation of 2.1 million people, our taxpayer funded foreign aid goes far, allowing Foundation Open Society – Macedonia (FOSM) to push a progressive agenda and invigorate the political left. Our foreign aid should only be used to promote a political agenda if it is in the security or economic interests of our country to do so, and even at that, we must be cautious and respectful in such an endeavor. We should be especially wary of promoting policies that remain controversial even in our own country and that have the potential to harm our relationship with the citizens of recipient countries.”
Senator Lee said in a statement: “This includes reports of diplomats playing political favorites, USAID funds supporting extreme and sometimes violent political activists, and the US Government working to marginalize the moderates and conservatives in leadership roles. … This sort of political favoritism from our missions around the world is unacceptable.”
Protestors took to the streets across Macedonia in the so-called “Colorful Revolution” – a protest similar to those organised with Neoconservative-backing in former Soviet nations, including the Rose Revolution in Georgia, the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, and the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan.
“As many as 61 left-wing groups in Macedonia, affiliated with Soros’s Open Society Institute, received millions of dollars from the US Agency for International Development and the State Department during Barack Obama’s administration,” Fox News reported.
While Soros’ involvement risks plunging Macedonia into civil war, it also risks fomenting another proxy war between Russia and the United States, similar to what is currently happening in Ukraine.
Russia has meanwhile accused the West of meddling in Macedonia’s internal affairs. On Thursday Russia urged cessation of foreign interference in the internal affairs of Macedonia. Russia’s permanent representative to the OSCE Alexander Lukashevich said: “It is necessary to stop external interference in the internal affairs of Macedonia, respect Macedonian citizens’ right to shape their own destiny based on the founding democratic principles.” The text of Lukashevich’s speech, was published by the Russian Foreign Ministry.
He stressed that heightening inter-ethnic tensions in Macedonia would be dangerous not only for the state but could ignite the whole region.
Macedonia is deeply divided ethnically, with ethnic Macedonians making up the majority of the country along with a sizable minority of Albanians and a smaller group of Turks, both of which are Muslim. While Albanian is the official second language of Macedonia, its usage is restricted by law, creating a resentment which has been exploited.
As Fox News pointed out, USAID gave nearly $15 million to Soros’ Foundation Open Society – Macedonia, and other Soros-linked organisations in the region, in the last 4 years of Obama’s presidency alone.
“The State Department told lawmakers that in addition to that project, USAID has recently funded a new Civic Engagement Project which partners with four organisations, including FOSM. The cost is believed to be around $9.5 million.
“A citizen’s initiative called “Stop Operation Soros” has also published a white paper alleging US money has been funding violent riots in the streets, as well as a Macedonian version of Saul Alinsky’s far-left handbook Rules for Radicals.”
Russia described Macedonia’s opposition as “openly backed by the European Union and the United States” on March 3, and said that EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn, EU High Representative Federica Mogherini and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg exert “unprecedented pressure” on Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov to hand over the prime minister’s seat to the opposition.
Pro-Russian Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher meanwhile suggested Macedonia was not a country, and should be partitioned by neighbors such as Kosovo and Bulgaria. Rohrabacher currently chairs the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats.
“My inclination is Macedonia is not a country. I’m sorry – it’s not a country,” the California congressman told Albanian TV channel Vizion Plus.
“There is such a division in their country they will never be able to live together in the future. For this reason, Kosovars and Albanians from Macedonia should be part of Kosovo and the rest of Macedonia should be part of Bulgaria or any other country to which they believe they are related,” he said, according to Bulgarian news wire BGNES, translated from Albanian.
The congressman also said that he was not afraid of Russian influence in the Balkan region.
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