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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Soros: Aid Record Poor In Republics

WASHINGTON -- The world community missed an historic opportunity to create an open society in the former Soviet Union and also failed in Bosnia, billionaire financier George Soros said.


Soros has become a key player in global affairs as well as finance because of private nonprofit foundations he has established in two dozen countries to promote freedom and the people and institutions that make it a reality.


During a lunch with diplomatic writers in Washington on Thursday, Soros said he disagreed with the "laissez-faire" ideology that holds that people pursuing their self-interest will bring about the best allocation of resources and that "as an unintended consequence you're going to have an open society."


"I think if there is one thing people can learn from [the fall of communism] it is that open society is not the unintended consequence of people looking out for their own interests," he said.


"It is an institutional structure that has to be brought into existence and there has to be a political will to bring it into existence and sustain it and that is where ... we have gone tremendously wrong."


Soros said, "We had a historic opportunity to create open societies in the former Soviet Union and we have failed that because of this laissez-faire ideology."


He recalled the international community's rejection of his 1989 proposal for a kind of multibillion dollar post-World War II-like Marshall Plan for Russia and the other former communist states and said, "That is where we went wrong."


Soros, who supports a program in Bosnia as well as other countries, said of the former Yugoslav republic, "Unfortunately, it's clear the concept of open society is a casualty whatever the outcome now [of the U.S.-brokered peace agreement there] and it's going more and more in that direction."


Despite problems in Russia, and concerns about the outcome of the June elections, Soros said he would try to continue his foundation's operations there even if a communist is elected. Communist Gennady Zyuganov is leading in opinion polls.


"Our strategy in Russia is to continue working as long as we can, as long as we are tolerated," Soros said.


"If there were a communist victory, we would seek to continue ... Whether we will be able to, that remains to be seen." His foundation operates a number of programs in Russia, including expanding Internet access.