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Soros-Funded CEU Faces Closure

A Hungarian draft law would impose stringent conditions on the private graduate school. 

29 March 2017

The president of Budapest’s Central European University denounced Hungarian draft legislation today, calling it “a threat to our continued existence in Hungary.”

 

The bill submitted to parliament by Human Resources Minister Zoltan Balog aims to regulate 28 private universities in Hungary. Balog said current law needed amending because of “national security considerations” and to ensure that university courses meet “foreign policy priorities,” Bloomberg reports.

 

Founded by Hungarian-American financier George Soros in 1991, CEU is one of the largest and best known of the many private colleges and universities that cropped up in Central Europe in the 1990s.

 

Education Minister Laszlo Palkovics denied that the bill was aimed specifically at Soros, the BBC reports. The philanthropist’s Open Society Institute has funded many cultural and social programs in Central and Eastern Europe and who nationalists often accuse of being a tool of American liberal interests.

 

CEU President Michael Ignatieff, a writer and former Canadian politician, said the institution complied with Hungarian law and charged that the bill was designed to shut it down.

 

"We will defend our achievements vigorously against anyone who seeks to defame our work in the eyes of the Hungarian people," he said.

 

CEU offers only graduate-level degrees. It is registered in New York State but has no U.S. campus, unlike the other 27 institutions that would be affected by the bill.

 

Under the bill, the university could only stay open if U.S. President Donald Trump and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban – both “sworn enemies” of Soros in the words of the BBC’s Nick Thorpe – sign an intergovernmental agreement and it establishes a U.S. campus by next February.

 

 

  •  Another bill in Hungary that will force NGOs to reveal foreign funding sources has been compared to Russia’s “foreign agent” law that has forced several groups to curtail or stop their activities in the country.

 

  • The targets of the law are said to be mainly NGOs that receive funding from Soros’s Open Society Institute. Hungary’s government has often accused Soros of unfairly influencing local politics. (Transitions is a recipient of funding from the Open Society Institute.)

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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