Person

Annette Laborey

Nationality:

Born in Germany, lives in France

Occupation:

Open Society Foundations Ombudsman

Annette Laborey is a German-French activist and long-time associate of billionaire left-of-center philanthropist George Soros. Laborey started her activism career with a focus on Eastern Europe. According to The New Republic, she became a friend of Soros in the 1980s, when he offered to fund one of her initiatives to promote left-progressive societal values in Soviet bloc nations. This initiative, run by the Paris-based Fondation pour une Entraide Intellectuelle Européenne (FEIE) or European Foundation for Intellectual Cooperation, originally received its support from the Ford Foundation. By the late 1980s, however, Soros was providing more than 75 percent of FEIE’s funding. [1] [2]

Since the end of the Cold War, Laborey has opposed the revival of national and religious identity in the nations where she and Soros had supported liberal anti-communist movements. In 2017, she issued a public statement criticizing the right-of-center government of Poland for its policies on immigration, abortion, and other issues. [3]

Laborey is originally from Munich, Germany, but moved to Paris, France in the early 1970s. [4]

Soros Network

Annette Laborey first became involved with George Soros in the 1980s, when he approached her and offered to fund the network of left-progressive activists in Warsaw Pact nations that she had been helping cultivate since the mid-1970s through her Paris-based organization, the FEIE. According to The New Republic, Laborey asked Soros for a $10,000 grant, but Soros suggested that she “think larger” and went on to covertly fund the network for several years. After the FEIE closed down in 1990, Laborey became the vice president of Soros’ Open Society Foundations (OSF) – then called the Open Society Institute – and held the position until 2012. [5] [6] As of June 2020, Laborey had assumed the role of ombudsman for Europe, Asia, and the Americas, tasked with responding to ethics complaints against OSF programs in those regions. [7]

Conflict with Polish Government

In April 2017, the Polish government, under right-of-center President Andrzej Duda, presented Laborey with a state award for her activism against Poland’s Soviet-backed socialist government during the Cold War. However, Laborey rejected the award. Instead, she published a lengthy statement in the left-of-center Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza (“The Elections Gazette”) in which she attacked Duda and his governing Law and Justice party. In particular, she criticized the government for choosing not to open its borders to Middle Eastern migrants, restricting abortion, and maintaining a close relationship with the Catholic Church. Laborey described these policies as “countless rapes of freedom” (niezliczone gwałty na wolności) and called the award an insult. [8]

However, other Polish media reported that the award was not an initiative of Duda or his party. In the aftermath of the incident, the newspaper Niezależna (“The Independent”) and the news channel TVP-INFO reported that the award had been authorized by previous President Bronislaw Komorowski of the left-of-center Civic Platform party in May 2015, shortly before the election.  Niezależna reported that the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which ultimately issued the award to Laborey, was simply implementing the previous administration’s already-completed executive action. [9]

References

  1. Tereza Pospíšilová. “Transnational Philanthropy and Nationalism: The Early Years of Central European University.” CAIRN. February 2014. Accessed October 17, 2021. https://www.cairn.info/revue-mondes1-2014-2-page-129.htm ^
  2. Michael Lewis. “The Speculator.” The New Republic. January 9, 1994. Accessed October 17, 2021. https://newrepublic.com/article/74330/the-speculator ^
  3. Annette Laborey. “Z żalem nie przyjmuję orderu – list do polskiej ambasady w Paryżu.” Gazeta Wyborcza. April 25, 2017. Accessed October 17, 2021. https://wyborcza.pl/7,95891,21685819,z-zalem-nie-przyjmuje-orderu.html ^
  4. Tereza Pospíšilová. “Transnational Philanthropy and Nationalism: The Early Years of Central European University.” CAIRN. February 2014. Accessed October 17, 2021. https://www.cairn.info/revue-mondes1-2014-2-page-129.htm ^
  5. Tereza Pospíšilová. “Transnational Philanthropy and Nationalism: The Early Years of Central European University.” CAIRN. February 2014. Accessed October 17, 2021. https://www.cairn.info/revue-mondes1-2014-2-page-129.htm ^
  6. Michael Lewis. “The Speculator.” The New Republic. January 9, 1994. Accessed October 17, 2021. https://newrepublic.com/article/74330/the-speculator ^
  7. “Addressing Complaints—Ombuds Office.” Open Society Foundations. Accessed October 17, 2021. https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/policies/addressing-complaints-ombuds-office ^
  8. Annette Laborey. “Z żalem nie przyjmuję orderu – list do polskiej ambasady w Paryżu.” Gazeta Wyborcza. April 25, 2017. Accessed October 17, 2021. https://wyborcza.pl/7,95891,21685819,z-zalem-nie-przyjmuje-orderu.html ^
  9. Marek Nowicki. “Zainspirowana Michnikiem poczuła zniewagę.” Niezależna. April 28, 2017. Accessed October 17, 2021. https://niezalezna.pl/97892-zainspirowana-michnikiem-poczula-zniewage-nie-przyjmie-od-dudy-odznaczenia-ktore-nadal-komorowski ^
  See an error? Let us know!