Budapest, May 5 (MTI) – Hungary’s foreign ministry has summoned the Canadian ambassador over a statement she issued in connection with recent legislation tightening regulations on foreign universities in Hungary and its perceived impact on Budapest’s Central European University (CEU).
The ministry quoted Ambassador Isabelle Poupart as saying in the statement published on the Canadian government’s website on Thursday that Canada’s government is “seriously concerned” about the impact the amendment would have on academic freedom in Hungary. She urged Hungary to change the law as soon as possible, just as Hungarian leaders made a “commitment” to do so on Saturday.
The ministry called the ambassador’s comments “untrue”, saying that academic freedom was “not under threat from anybody” in Hungary.
“Academic freedom is a right the Hungarian government has always stood up for and will continue to protect in the future too,” the ministry said.
It added, at the same time, that foreign universities must be expected to adhere to the same rules as Hungarian ones. “The Hungarian higher education law does not just apply to [US financier] George Soros’s school, the CEU, but to all 28 foreign universities” operating in Hungary, the statement said.
The ministry said that “not even Brussels has questioned” Hungarian academic freedom, adding that “the infringement procedure launched against Hungary on the matter is about the supposed violation of the free flow of services.” This is something the Hungarian government is of course open to discussing, the statement added.