It’s about our freedom! Hungarian policy towards the Central European University contradicts European principles

In a joint statement with other societal organ­i­sa­tions and individuals, the Institute for European Politics calls on European insti­tu­tions, the federal government and the Bundestag in support of the Central European University (CEU) in Budapest. On Tuesday, the Hungarian parliament decided on amend­ments that threaten the continued operation and existence of the CEU. Below is the complete wording of the statement:

“This week Hungary’s ruling parties Fidesz and the KDNP made changes to the national higher education law in expedited proce­dures which serve above all a singular purpose: the Central European University (CEU), based in Budapest since 1991, is to be closed or at least driven out of the country.

The CEU is a university with an outstanding inter­na­tional reputation. Like few other university among the new EU member states, the CEU stands for inter­na­tional exchange and academic excel­lence. The univer­sity’s work has from the beginning been under­stood as one of supporting the devel­opment of more open and more democ­ratic societies. It is clearly for exactly this reason that the university is now a thorn in the side of the ruling Hungarian government, which strives to create an “illiberal democracy,” in the words of Prime Minister Victor Orbán.

To attack a university because it educates its students to be critical and respon­sible decision-makers and because its publi­ca­tions criti­cally scrutinize contem­porary Hungarian politics is unworthy of a democracy and incom­patible with the principles of the European Union.

As Europeans, we see within the policies of the Hungarian government an attack on our core values and convic­tions. Academic freedom is explicitly guaranteed in Article 13–which was also ratified by Hungary–of the Funda­mental Rights Charter. Basic rights that exist not only on paper, but that are also actively defended, are indis­pensable for a functioning democracy as well as for the process of European integration.

We expect the majority parties in the Hungarian parliament and the Hungarian government to represent their beliefs through arguments rather than to silence their supposed critics by exploiting state power. We demand that European insti­tu­tions, all parties repre­sented in the Bundestag and the federal government of Germany openly and clearly defend our democ­ratic values and achieve­ments. Every­thing possible must be done in order to secure the continued existence of the Central European University in Budapest. Every effort in this direction is also a contri­bution against Hungary’s further derailment towards a nation­alist-author­i­tarian system and as such serves to strengthen democracy in Europe.

We also appeal to the media to fulfill its role of providing critical coverage and to not easily give in to following the official Hungarian account. Those who wish to silence a renowned, US-founded university do not do so in order to defend Europe nor democracy, but rather the exact opposite.”

Signa­tories (as of: April 10, 2017)
Associ­ation des Etats Généraux des Etudiants de l’Europe AEGEE Berlin eV
National Associ­ation Sustain­ability eV
Citizens of Europe eV
European Academy Otzen­hausen gGmbH
Alfons Scholten, Chairman, European Feder­ation of Education and Science EBB-AEDE eV
The Board Europe Professionally
Prof. Dr. Timm Beichelt, Master’s degree in European Studies at the European University Viadrina
Wolfgang Dittmann, Managing Director of the School of Economics and Management Mannheim
Prof. Dr. Christian Trumpp, President, IB-University Berlin
Institute for European Politics eV
Young European Feder­alists eV

Solidarity and support oppor­tu­nities for CEU
More infor­mation on twitter: #Istand­withCEU