Central European University refuses to be intimidated

Finally I can give you some encouraging news about Central European University. In my last post on the subject I reported on the step taken by Andrew M. Cuomo, governor of the State of New York, who on May 24 “announced his readiness to enter into discussions with the Hungarian Government” concerning the fate of CEU. At that time I expressed my doubts that the Orbán government was actually ready to negotiate in good faith. I based this somewhat pessimistic opinion on a couple of sentences that had appeared in Magyar Idők, which indicated to me that any kind of agreement would still require the prior approval of the U.S. federal government, which we know is impossible to obtain.

Of course, we have no idea what the end result will be, but at least the Orbán government didn’t outright refuse Governor Cuomo’s offer. In fact, Kristóf Altusz, the undersecretary in the foreign ministry who is entrusted with the negotiations, got in touch with Governor Cuomo’s office last Friday. That is certainly a positive step.

This development is due to the brave and self-confident manner in which Michael Ignatieff, the rector of CEU, handled the situation. Cowering or trying to appease is the worst possible tactic to take when under siege by governments like that of Viktor Orbán. The university, led by Ignatieff, refused to be browbeaten. I’m convinced that without his determination and his calling worldwide attention to the Orbán government’s assault on a private university, that telephone conversation between Cuomo and Altusz would never have taken place. In fact, Ignatieff himself came to this conclusion, saying that “we are in a stronger position now than we were before because we resisted and said no.”

Central European University will stay in Budapest at least through the 2017-2018 academic year, Michael Ignatieff announced yesterday at a press conference. He wants to send a clear message to the government: CEU will not be shuttered. When a journalist asked him whether he has a plan B if “things get worse,” Ignatieff’s answer was that even if the government puts more pressure on them, they will not move. As he put it, he refuses to get involved in a game of chicken with the Hungarian government. He also made it clear that he is not going to be idle in the interim, which indicates to me that he is ready to continue his efforts to gain an agreement that would include a guarantee of the university’s unfettered existence in Hungary in the future.

Zsolt Enyedi, the university’s prorector for Hungarian affairs, made a remark which I found significant. He said that “the past few weeks have made us aware that we have a duty to the city and the country. We must remain as long as possible.” This is practically a clarion call to resist the anti-democratic forces that have taken over the reins of government in Budapest. In fact, this stressful episode in the history of the university has only made the resolve of the administration and faculty stronger.

The university will host an international conference on academic freedom on June 22 where the keynote speaker will be Mario Vargas Llosa, the Nobel Prize-winning Peruvian writer. At the graduation ceremony former German president Joachim Gauck will receive the Open Society Prize, which “is awarded annually to an outstanding individual or organization whose achievements have contributed substantially to the creation of an open society.”

The government media published, without any commentary, MTI’s summary of what transpired at the press conference. The only attack in the past two days came from Pesti Srácok, which reported on “the stomach turning anti-family conference” organized by the School of Public Policy/Department of Gender Studies of the university. The conference was obviously an answer of sorts to the mega-conference hosted by the “coalition of conservative organizations from around the globe.” It seems that what made the lectures stomach-turning was that speakers deemed the conservative family model outmoded in our modern society.

A few days ago Magyar Hírlap learned that the evil puppeteer George Soros, who rules the whole world according to the Hungarian government and its media, is coming to Hungary because CEU’s board of trustees will hold its annual meeting on June 24-25 in Budapest, right after the international conference on academic freedom. I don’t know when the decision was made to hold the board meeting in Budapest, but I have the feeling that it was not entirely independent from the recent government attack on the institution. Soros is the honorary chairman of the board. Otherwise, the trustees are a distinguished lot, including such well-known American-Hungarians as author and journalist Kati Marton and George E. Pataki, former governor of New York. The only trustee from Hungary is Attila Chikán, professor of economics at Corvinus University.

We also shouldn’t forget that, thanks to the joint effort of all opposition parties, including Jobbik, the Hungarian constitutional court was obliged to take up the question of the constitutionality of Lex CEU, as everybody in Hungary calls the law designed to expel the university from Hungary. The parliamentary vote took place on April 12. Until today we heard nothing about the fate of the court case. We just learned that, at the suggestion of the chief justice, a special working group will be formed to prepare the case for discussion by the full court. The creation of such working groups is allowed, “in especially complicated cases.” This means that until now the judges haven’t considered the case at all. The fact that the chief justice considers the case so complex that it needs special treatment leads me to believe that there is no agreement within the body about what to do with this hot potato.

May 31, 2017
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Daniel
Guest
If I were Soros, I would move the CEU out of Budapest in a nanosecond. They do not deserve this. First, the university is going to lose big time as the law is retroactive in a sense that current students cannot know if they can graduate or not. Maybe they end up throwing a few years out of their lives. Then the university cannot hire for the following school year, which is going to impact finances as well as quality. Third, the employees are in limbo. In situations like this, most people start looking elsewhere. So the only way to save quality, is to move to an embracing environment. There are plenty of choices. And since money is not a problem, it could show to the world a shining example. Then they could send the reports and news to Budapest annually, to show them what these losers actually did lose out on. If I were Soros, I would also send a parcel, as a present, to the Ember-minister in Budapest, that would include some nicely packaged bullshit. Maybe they would treasure that more than what they got now; and that is what they deserve. And finally I would not go… Read more »
Istvan
Guest

Daniel I agree CEU simply does not deserve to be treated in the manner the Fidesz government is treating it. I don’t agree that Mr. Soros should just pull the plug and get out of Budapest. I am glad he is supporting a fight for CEU to remain in Hungary because that fight is also a fight about academic and intellectual freedom in Hungary. Even if you have disagreements with Soros about his larger vision of an open society, which as a Conservative American I do, this fight over the right of intellectual inquiry is one he should be supported on.

Marius
Guest

George Soros is every year in Budapest in mid-June. He usually attends the Commencement ceremony (every graduate student gets a picture with him) and chairs the Board of Trustees summer meeting. Nothing out of the ordinary, every year the same.

ambator
Member

Yes, I have just read that he is coming again.
I wonder if those graduating students, when their picture is taken with him, do they sit in his lap, as my children did in their time with Santa Claus?

old1956
Guest

I am not a fan of Andrew Cuomo.

He want to negotiate with a fascist regime?

Nice job.

I would refer the case to Trump. With all his faults, he knows how to handle nut jobs.

old1956
Guest

Soros is another confused guy.
Is it schizophrenia?
He supports Eastern European nations, but can not see straight in the Middle East or in USA. Is he the best ally of the Kremlin sometimes?

petofi
Guest

@ old 1956

I don’t understand your faith and reliance on Trump. HE is the number one ‘nut job’, as you call it. He has a history of being a liar, a cheat, and a shyster. And now, in all likelihood, he has been co-opted by the Russians, too. He’s well on the way to undermining the old allies of the USA, and marginalizing Nato–these were his major ‘achievements’ on his latest trip.

Istvan
Guest

Petofi I without question agree President Trump has numerous let us call them mental health challenges. On his position relating to NATO there was actually an intellectual recitation by General McMaster and Gary Cohen (Trump’s director of the National Economic Council) in the Wall Street Journal on May 30 of Trump’s thinking on NATO and international affairs.

In that essay the General and Mr. Cohn expressed a thought, actually very Machiavellian, that: “The president embarked on his first foreign trip with a clear-eyed outlook that the world is not a “global community” but an arena where nations where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage. We bring to this forum unmatched military, political, economic, cultural and moral strength. Rather than deny this elemental nature of international affairs, we embrace it.”

In the world of Trump and possibly General McMaster too, the idea of more or less democratic market driven economies with elected legislative institutions and their preservation is not of much concern. A Russian or Hungarian oligarchy, a Saudi monarchical capitalism based on unique brand of capitalism with Wahhabi characteristics, it makes little difference in the vision of Trump.

Guest

I think you nailed it there, Istvan!

Trump doesn’t care for democracy and its values at all – he just wants power and is only interested in other powerful entities. Where the power comes from,doesn’t matter for him.

Now theonly problem is:
“The new improved EU” based on Markel and Macron’s idea (and of course other democrats -whether left or right, liberal conservative or progressive) does not agree with him but is at least as powerful as the USA imho.

If you look at the economy the US is very dependent on China and the rest of East Asia, they get so much of their stuff from there and of course couldn’t produce it themselves – the idea of bringing the factories back is lunatic.
Europe is more independent there imho.

Trump is on his way back to the beginning of the 20th Century – and we know what came out of that …
Or maybe he even wants a return to the 19th Century? At that tme “America was great” but didn’t have much of a connection to the rest of the world – isolationism is surely one of Trump’s ideas.

Ferenc
Guest

“doesn’t care for democracy and its values at all – he just wants power”
valid for more democratic elected leaders, let’s start a list: Erdogan, Orban, Kaczynski,…

Guest

I’ve been thinking for a long time that you must be confused – writing propaganda for Trump under constantly changing aliases is a bad sign.

And I’m sure most commentators here agree with me that Mrs Merkel is doing the right thing while Trump is doing …

Member

Coincidence or not, the fascists have also removed their “Stop Brussels” idiotic propaganda from the city. But…..
Orban is a lying, thieving, thuggish criminal.
Never trust him while he has a breathe left in his body.

Observer
Guest

A good Fidesznik is the (politically) dead fidesznik. I wouldn’t mind if God waved the proviso for Orban and a couple more.

Fran
Guest

Every propaganda campaign has to end at one point. It’d been going on for weeks if not not longer. I hope you’re not selling this as a positive act for which we have to be thankful. We now have the scheming Jew puppetmaster controlling Vona and Botka. Is this better?

Fidesz just bought Mandinder the site for youngish conservatives and is actively trying to acquire everything that breathes. Including 24.hu, hvg.hu and index.hu. Slowly but surely Fidesz will control every conceivable media.

Guest

The Hungarians will have to learn foreign languages as their own language looses its means to convey credible news.

ambator
Member

We should also mention an ”amicus curiae” submission by three international law experts to the Constitutional Court. In their summary they explain that the CEU is protected under the GATT agreement, of which Hungary is a signatory, and therefore, the Lex CEU is fully in contravention of international law. The Court is not obliged to consider, or apply this submission, but if they make the mistake of ignoring it, and their mistaken decision might later lead to a European Court compensation judgement against the government, they cannot claim that they were not warned.
This will be the case that demonstrates how useless this Court has became in the hands of the Fidesz government: there simply is no sufficient resolution to this conundrum, but the government is expecting its bidding to be done. The failure is almost programmed into this case and into this court.

Fran
Guest

It would be bordering on a miracle if the Constitutional Court would hold Lex CEU unconstitutional on the merits – and not on some minor technicality which – if Fidesz improved upon it next time around – could even make the law “constitutional”.

There are other complicated outcomes as well which I would not get into. But make no mistake the Prime Minister’s Office is overseeing the development of the case and will act if necessary. The CC is not an independent court just to make this very clear.

Carl
Guest

I think it was not mentioned that CEU decided not to admit any students for the academic year 2018/19 (and beyond, ie. some programs, such as Phd, last many years).

Observer
Guest

The attack on CEU seems a(nother) great blunder. No wonder, when one looks at the world from Felcsut.
What feelings this grotesque episode raises in all the alumni, candidates, all the institutions and officials working or in any relation with the CEU.

Orban shot himself in the foot with buck shot this time.

wrfree
Guest
Perhaps a misstep of his that does indeed show that even a stubborn government who when met with unyielding pressure needs to ‘pay attention’ on some things. Orban no doubt has ascertained consequences in the CEU bustup which may not be to his liking. What I would note is that the CEU leadership should be lauded for their outstanding leadership and stewardship in developing and managing one of the finest European universities. The fact of the tremendous outpouring of support globally for the university throws out the ridiculous canard that the university is some kind of educational puppet owned by someone who ‘rules the world’. The constantly harped on caricature apparently has no substance at all in the eyes of all who know what is going on in the CEU affair. They know where the bs piles up. CEU from its inception had only one objective and that was to offer an environment of free inquiry in the academic arena. No polemics or propaganda but rather the exchange, analysis and distribution of ideas in art, science, economics , literature and history to the global community. If this is what the Magyar leadership wished to halt they have been mistaken. For… Read more »
Guest

Fidesz obviously thinks that Hungarians are stupid enough to believe all their cr*p – the rest of the world is wondering what’s going on here in Hungary.

Not too much OT:
It’s very fitting in a way that Mr Gauck will be here to receive that Open Society prize!
May I remind everyone that he got kind of famous after 1990 as the director of the office for lustration that made all Stasi (secret police) records available for everybody to look at.
Something that Fidesz has until now not been willing to do – we of course know why:
Because they have too many corpses in the cellar!
I’m sure that all those Fidesz mafiosi who were members of the secret police once (anybody just mentioned Putin?) are not amused by this …

Ferenc
Guest

today revealed a potential one from the cellar: Bakondi Gy., OV’s Security Advisor, aka.Mr.’Piece of Shit’.
Somebody informed LMP, that he saw Bakondi in 1987 at a Border Guards college in Moscow, which was only for high officers of Socialist countries!
Here’s the story including two interviews: http://www.atv.hu/belfold/20170601-valaki-hazudik-egyre-tobbet-tud-az-lmp-bakondi-moszkvai-tanulmanyairol
One of them is not telling the truth, either somebody or Mr.PoS…

Guest

Good news:
Seems that politics.hu is online again – hope this is for real now, wish them good luck.

Member

Theres is an article from Soros about Europe:

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/momentum-turning-in-favor-of-europe-by-george-soros-2017-06

I totally agree.
After I read some negative comments on the EU and its inactivity against fascist Hungary here recently, I have the desire to state my opinion on that:

Due to recent events now it is time for hope for the EU as a whole.
The EU currently wakes up.
Soros in his article calls it ‘momentum’.

Some of the signs for hope:
– Macron
– Starting Articel 7 against Hungary
– Merkels remark after G7, that EU must care more for itself
– German plans to connect cehesion fond payments to rule of law
– more positive appreciation of EU from her citizens
– many more…

What does it mean to Hungary ?
As Soros writes, this is up to the Hungarian people. But, I think, it would be nice, if the opposition wouldn’t be so self destructing; but here are tiny psotive signals as well (recent poll).

Fran
Guest

And imagine if Labour won (perhaps forming a government with the SNP). Labour is now only 3 points behind the Conservatives nationally (though given the election system that doesn’t say much).

Labour will probably lose but compared to what people originally predicted (e.g. it will be wiped out, worse results in 50 years, being 20 points behind in the polls when May called the election) the results will be much better and there is now a real chance for Labour to actually govern.

I don’t think Corby cares about CEE at all, but Orban’s idiotic prediction/narrative about the “revolts” of 2017 (ie. the coming to power of the far right) would then be proven wrong yet again.

petofi
Guest

I hope Corbyn wins because May is the 2nd coming of the ultimate Mss Ambition–H. Clinton.

It was mind-boggling to watch May turn a post-EU conference press briefing into an election attack. How ridiculous!

aida
Guest
May belongs to the toxic right, such as Trump, Orban et al. She was the Uk interior Minister for 6 years before succeeding the fool Cameron as Prime Minister. Her record as such was lamentable. Reduced Police funding and reduced Police numbers. Promised to reduce immigration to less than 100,000 a year. Took no effective step to achieve that outcome. Immigration sky rocketed. She wrote a well reasoned article against Brexit and campaigned half heartedly for Remain. As soon Referendum result known she embraced hard Brexit and allied self with the UKIP wing of the Tory Party. She promised as recently as March no election before 2020, the end of the 5 year term. Called one on bogus grounds in April when she thought she would catch Labour on the hop and get a landslide crypto fascist majority. She put forward a referendum that included a proposal for funding the care for the elderly named by Labour the dementia tax. She immediately backtracked with a half hearted u turn. She wants to expand the number of selective grammar schools when the education experts say it is divisive. Cut funding for schools. There is a brilliant hit Liar Liar about her… Read more »
Observer
Guest

Pls keep things in prospective, can’t compare May with the Orbán thieving fascists.

aida
Guest

No, you are right. She is not a fascist. Just a very bad deal for the UK and for Europe.
But if the Tories win, fox hunting is coming back. But free school meals are finished. Children from poor and therefore often chaotic families probably rely on this as their only full and warm meal of the day.
Do listen to Liar Liar.

Ferenc
Guest

Just checked it, brilliant!!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxN1STgQXW8
PS: looking forward for a good Hungarian version!!

Ferenc
Guest

And today will be protest at BBC Radio1 HQ, to force them to play it!!

Ferenc
Guest
Ferenc
Guest

OT (sorry for 2nd time, by accident first in yesterday’s post)
Amnesty International started campaign against Hungary’s (or better OV&Co’s) anti-NGO law.
Here’s info: https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/eur27/6366/2017/en/ and https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/EUR2763662017ENGLISH.pdf

Related item: appeal in case of Ahmed H. will be June.15 in Szeged, https://twitter.com/TodorGardos/status/870245355039989760 .
In Hungarian media I’ve seen people claiming that the EU shouldn’t have put this case in their May.17 resolution, because according Hungarian law he is a terrorist. Well THAT’s just the problem: tell me another EU country where he would be judged similar!! Can’t find one?? Then the problem is really the current ‘Rule of Law’ in Hungary, which is not in accordance with the EU!! It’s THAT simple…

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