U.S. concerned about Hungary's university law, says envoy

Trevor Jackson
April 13, 2017

The Central European University (CEU), a school founded by United States financier George Soros, could be forced to leave Hungary after a bill passed in Parliament this week by Orban's Fidesz Party set stringent, new conditions under which it must operate.

The protesters chanted slogans urging President Janos Ader to ask the Constitutional Court to review the new law adopted by parliament last week that is likely to lead to the closure of the CEU.

Hungary's president late on Monday ( April 10) signed legislation on foreign universities that could force a top global school founded by United States financier George Soros out of the country, triggering a fresh protest in Budapest against the move.

European justice commissioner Vera Jourova on Monday (10 April) called on civil society to stand up to prime minister Viktor Orban's right-wing government and his broader efforts to create an illiberal democracy.

Protesters filling Kossuth Square outside the parliament said they want President Janos Ader to veto the legislation.

However, last week the US embassy in Budapest issued a statement critical of the legislation, while accusing lawmakers who backed it of targeting the Soros-founded university.

CEU is "determined to stay in Budapest" and will resort to "all legal remedies" to remain there, Chairman of the Board of Trustees Leon Botstein said in a statement on Thursday.

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One new stipulation demands bilateral agreements with the home countries of universities from outside the European Union within six months, while another would require schools to establish campuses in their home countries by the end of the year.

"We are of course... quite vigilant about what Russian Federation is doing in the region..." I'm glad that so many people showed up.

"It's noteworthy that all of the other institutions have accepted this modest minimal condition of university equality and fairness".

It is a "really worrying precedent", Ms Wilson added, that despite an unprecedented mobilisation of academics - with the CEU receiving support from scores of universities and academic groups across the world, and Louise Richardson, vice-chancellor of the University of Oxford, joining its board in solidarity - the protests appear to have made little difference.

The legislation has attracted widespread criticism overseas, including from Washington, Brussels and academics. "Orban understands only the rules of power, and our power comes from our numbers".

Orban's government sees the CEU as a bastion of Hungary's liberal opposition. Yee is also expected to meet with authorities from the university. Ader - from Orban's governing Fidesz party - was re-elected by lawmakers for a five-year term in March.

A law expected to be passed in May would force nongovernmental organizations getting more than $24,500 a year from overseas to register with authorities.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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