The government’s comments on developments around the Central European University (CEU) are “absurd and fake”, green opposition LMP lawmaker Péter Ungár said on Thursday, adding that the CEU was being subjected to a “political showdown”.
The CEU has said that unless the university can emerge from its current legal limbo in Hungary by December 1, incoming students will start their studies at the CEU’s new campus in Vienna. Michael Ignatieff, the CEU’s president and rector, told a news conference in Budapest that the decision by the institution’s board of trustees will come into effect on December 1, though, he added, hopefully a solution to the stand-off was still possible to ensure that courses continue in Hungary.
In response to the CEU press conference, government spokesman Zoltán Kovács branded Ignatieff’s statement as “a political bluff” on the part of US billionaire George Soros, the CEU’s founder and main benefactor. He said the CEU “will continue to operate in Hungary today, and, in our opinion, in the future too.”
Ungár said government claims that the CEU had benefits that other Hungarian universities did not were untrue. He added that it was the government’s decision to introduce tuition fees and withdraw funding that harmed Hungarian universities the most.
“The fact that the government has a dispute with the financier of the CEU, who actually also financed the current ruling party in the 90s, provides a frisson of excitement,” but to destroy Hungary’s higher education because of it goes against the interest of the nation, he said.
“What’s happening to the university now will only damage Hungary because its students have been spreading the country’s good reputation around the world.”
Photo: MTI (illustration)