Polish conservatives are furious that Norwegian EEA money goes to feminists and gays. Now the Government of Poland is fighting for full control over the grants.
Poland and Norway are negotiating at the moment on a pool of over €800 million in EEA Grants. The sum is equates to more than NOK 7 billion.
But the negotiations are deadlocked. The reason is that the Government of Poland wants political control over the part of the funds that will go to the civil society.
Poland’s proposal is that the monies will be administered by a new national centre for the development of civil society. The centre will be directly under the Prime Minister, and critical voices are viewing the proposal as a thinly veiled attempt to choke the funding of organizations that do not fit into the Government’s conservative profile.
Criticism in Polish press
Today it is the Batory Foundation which manages the EEA funds that go to civil society in Poland. This is a foundation which in its time was founded Hungarian-born George Soros, a billionaire and philanthropist who has been politically attacked by conservatives in both Hungary and Poland.
In recent weeks, the Batory Foundation received massive criticism in the right-wing press in Poland for having favoured leftist and liberal organizations in their donations.
A group of 50 conservative organizations have also written an open letter to Norway where they require that the Batory Foundation should be disallowed to continue as manager.
The conservative organizations react specifically on how the money has gone to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual (LGBT) activists and groups working for a gender-neutral marriage.
The Batory Foundation’s CEO Ewa Kulik-Bielinska asks Norway not to succumb. She believes it is crucial that the management of the funds remain independent.
– We have already seen a number of decisions which show that the current Government locks public funds to organizations created by party loyalists or people from the right-wing media that support the Government, Kulik-Bielinska said.
According to her, this has badly affected women’s groups, feminists and organizations working for the rights of sexual minorities or refugees and asylum seekers.
– Several people have already had to cut down on staff. Eventually they will be starved to death, she says.
Source: NTB scanpix / Norway Today