CEU close to resolve conflict with Hungary

The Central European University in Budapest has signed an agreement with Bard College in New York to provide educational activities in New York State, the university told MTI on Tuesday.

Talks have been held in recent months between New York State and the Hungarian government about the future of the CEU but the university “has intentionally refrained from making public statements” in order to help the success of these talks, the statement showed.

The CEU has not participated in the talks but has been informed that they have “created the basis for an agreement”. It is anticipated that the government will sign an agreement and parliament will ratify the agreement with New York State, which will enable CEU to continue operating in Budapest, the statement said, adding that this has always been the university’s intention.

The CEU, founded by US financier George Soros, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Bard College to provide educational activities in New York. The university said it hopes that this memorandum of understanding, which does not preclude future agreements with other New York-based institutions, helps to provide the basis for a speedy conclusion to this affair.

State secretary for education Laszlo Palkovics said in parliament on September 20 that talks held with Maryland State and also with New York State had been held on a professional basis and “there were no political aspects”. He added that he expected the talks with New York State to be concluded in the near future. If the CEU meets the conditions then an agreement will be signed, he said.

An amendment to Hungary’s higher education law passed in April stipulates that an inter-state agreement is needed for any foreign university to operate in Hungary and issue an international degree. The foreign university is expected to also operate as a registered higher education institution in the country where it is headquartered and have the licence to issue a higher education degree recognised by the state.

In  April, the European Commission opened an infringement procedure against Hungary over the education law. In its “letter of formal notice” the EU executive body said “the law is not compatible with the fundamental internal market freedoms, notably the freedom to provide services and the freedom of establishment, but also with the right of academic freedom, the right to education and the freedom to conduct a business as provided by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, as well as with the Unionʼs legal obligations under international trade law.” In July, they sent a “reasoned opinion”, Hungary was given one month to answer. In April, Hungary sent its replies to the European Commission in the infringement procedures instituted on account of the NGO law and the higher education legislation.

“It’s hardly our fault that these restrictions are contrary to George Soros’s interests, but not even Soros can stand above the laws in Hungary, and it is to be hoped that the European Commission, too, will return to the realm of law within the confines of which these regulations themselves were conceived,”

– the Parliamentary State Secretary of the Ministry of Justice, Pal Völner told a press conference.

According to ATV‘s information the Venice Commission is to publish its opinion about “lex CEU” this weekend.

Source: MTI, Hungary Journal
Photo: MTI


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