US "concerned" about Hungary's university law - top regional official

Jerome Frank
April 13, 2017

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. "The country where the government closes schools can not succeed".

A US diplomat says the Hungarian government should engage in "serious, urgent and good-faith talks" with Central European University about legal changes seen targeting the school founded by billionaire George Soros.

Hungarian President János Áder signed into law Monday a bill that Central European University says could force it to close its campus in Budapest, Bloomberg reported. Amendments to Hungary's higher education law, pushed through parliament in less than a week, would require the university to change its name and open a campus in the United States.

Tens of thousands demonstrated Sunday in Budapest against the legislation, many chanting "Don't sign it, Janos!" and holding up placards reading "Veto!"

The English-language CEU has 1,800 students from 100 countries and is ranked in the top 50 universities for political and worldwide studies in the World University Rankings list.

Speaking in Brussels after talks with Commission officials, Hungary's State Secretary for Education Laszlo Palkovics said his government did not want to close down any university and sought only to protect students against unverified institutions issuing fake diplomas.

Government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs denied in a blog post on Thursday that the CEU was being singled out, saying that irregularities had been found with 27 foreign higher education institutions.

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People protest againts the bill that would undermine Central European University, a liberal graduate school of social sciences founded by USA financier George Soros in Budapest, Hungary, April 9, 2017.

"We are of course... quite vigilant about what Russian Federation is doing in the region or more broadly in the Balkans...", he added.

The legislation has been condemned by many academics at home and overseas, and has also drawn criticism from Washington and Brussels.

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

In the introduction of the letter, Chomsky expresses solidarity with the university and those who have voiced their support for the CEU. "Orban understands only the rules of power, and our power comes from our numbers".

Yee said "the United States does not engage in such agreements about. how universities are going to be run in foreign countries".

Mr Soros has a strained relationship with Mr Orban - a keen supporter of US President Donald Trump - who has accused the financier of wanting a role in Hungarian politics and supporting the influx of migrants into Europe.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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