The way and method in which the state wants to place the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA) under its purview is unacceptable, Szabolcs Szabó, an MP of opposition green LMP, said at a press conference on Saturday.
The government wants to pass a budget act in which a big part of the Academy’s budget, some 28 billion forints (EUR 86.6m), is placed directly under government influence, Szabó said. The government wants to nationalise part of the Academy, which goes against the principle of freedom of scientific research, he added.
Szabó compared the earlier expulsion of Central European University (CEU) to book burning, and the “regulation” of MTA to burning down the library.
He noted a similar measure in 1949, in which two-thirds of the Academy’s members were expelled.
LMP will not support any budget or amendment to legislation that threatens the independence of the Academy, he said. LMP is on the side of the heads of the Academy who are asking the government to withdraw its proposals, he added.
“Nobody wants to nationalise MTA,” Innovation and Technology Minister László Palkovics said on public television on Saturday, addressing criticism of the planned changes to the Academy’s budget.
“Distributing this funding in a more efficient manner serves to achieve better results, and I would like to reach an agreement on this with those in the sciences,” he added.
Creating a unified policy for innovation and science is entirely a professional matter, one that affects not just funding for MTA, but for the universities and for the National Research, Development and Innovation Office, Palkovics said.
He insisted that the planned measure would in no way hurt the interests or autonomy of MTA. “MTA will get this funding. The only difference will be that we reach an agreement on certain issues that have more gravity,” he said.
The Innovation and Technology Ministry on Thursday said it would coordinate the distribution of R+D funding of about 70 billion forints (EUR 216m) for state institutions.
Photo by Alpár Kató (Daily News Hungary)