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CEU “Forced Out” of Hungary: a “Blow to Academic Freedom”

December 5, 2018

Budapest's Central European University (CEU), which has fought for 20 months to secure its continued presence in the Hungarian capital, is being pushed out of the country in an “arbitrary eviction” that violates academic freedom. CEU confirmed plans to open a new campus in Austria.

 

CEU’s legal status has been in limbo for more than a year since changes were made to a higher education law, done, as critics of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government say, to deliberately target CEU. This decision came in the face of Orban’s crackdown on academic freedom and autonomy, including a ban on gender studies programs, the suspension of research related to migration and diaspora studies, and harsh punitive tax measures.

 

On December 3, 2018, Michael Ignatieff, the president of CEU, called the move unprecedented, saying it was the first time a US institution had been driven out by a NATO ally. “We fought a battle of principle to defend academic freedom. We thought democracy was secure in Europe and now we’re looking at democratic backsliding of a serious kind in Hungary,” Ignatieff said at a news conference. “The challenge for us is to maintain our academic quality while we recover from this political attack. We’re part of a bigger story, which is the process of slow consolidation of single-party rule in this country, and that should worry us.”

 

Central European University is accredited in Hungary and the United States. It is acknowledged as one of the leading institutions in the region, with a faculty made up of leading scholars and politicians from around the world. 

 

Endangered Scholars Worldwide deplores and condemns the outrageous and unforgivable act of the Hungarian government to drive out the country's leading university.

 

We join other academic, intellectual, and political leaders in Europe, the US, and other regions who object to this assault on the CEU. We believe that the eviction of this reputable university is a flagrant and unjust violation of its freedom, autonomy, security, and safety, as well as that of its more than 2,200 faculty members, students, and staff. 

 

We call upon all European governments, the US Department of State, international organizations, university presidents, academic and professional associations, student groups, and individuals devoted to the promotion and defense of human rights to protest and condemn the Hungarian government’s actions toward CEU. We must create a stable legal environment in which independent thought and inquiry can flourish. 

 

ESW urges the officials of the Hungarian government to respect, guarantee, and implement the provisions and principles of autonomy of higher education as specified in the international conventions and treaties to which Hungary has long been a signatory. 

 

We stand in solidarity with the students and faculty of the Central European University.

 

Please send appeals to the following:

 

Viktor Orbán

Prime Minister
1357 Budapest, Pf. 6.

Hungary
E-mail: miniszterelnok@me.gov.hu

 

Zoltán KOVÁCS

International Spokesperson

Tel: +36 1 896 1905

Fax: +36 1 795 0410

Email:  intcomm@mk.gov.hu

 

István Mikola

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

1027 Budapest, Bem rakpart 47.

Hungary

Phone: +36 1 458 1000

Fax: +36 1 212 5918

 

Michael R. Pompeo

United States Secretary of State

Office of Foreign Missions

U.S. Department of State

2201 C Street NW

Washington, DC 20520 USA

Email: OFMInfo@state.gov

 

Nikki Haley

U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations

U.S. Permanent Mission to the United Nations

799 United Nations Plaza

New York, NY 10017 USA

 

 

David B. Cornstein

Ambassador of the United States to Hungary

Embassy of the United States

Szabadság tér 12, 1054

Budapest, Hungary

Fax: +36 1 475 4400

 

Kishore Singh

United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education

Palais des Nations

CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Email: sreducation@ohchr.org

 

David Kaye

United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and

protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression

Palais des Nations

CH-1211 Geneva 10

Switzerland

Fax: +41 22 917 9006

Email: freedex@ohchr.org

 

Federica Mogherini

High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security

Policy

European Commission

Rue de la Loi / Wetstraat 200

1049 Brussels

Belgium

 

Thorbjørn Jagland

Secretary General of the Council of Europe

Council of Europe

Avenue de l'Europe

F-67075 Strasbourg Cedex

France

Fax: + 33 3 88 41 27 99

 

Philippe Boillat

Directorate General Human Rights and Rule of Law

Council of Europe

Avenue de l'Europe

F-67075 Strasbourg Cedex

France

Fax: + 33 3 88 41 27 99

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