Cooperation between science and politics is in Hungary’s interest and communication should be two-way, Tamás Freund, the newly elected president of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA), said on Wednesday.
Freund pledged at an online press conference to respect excellence in all fields of work regardless of political affiliation.
Diversity is key to progress, he said, adding that an academic who saw the world differently was not necessarily a bad scientist.
He added, however, that academic debate and competition should happen among the country’s top scientists. “There’s room for criticising the government but it should be done by excellent scientists in the interest of the country on a strictly professional basis.”
The MTA is a “national treasure”,
Freund said. Mutually beneficial cooperation between science and politics is key to the country’s development, he said.
He said the MTA’s most urgent task was to reach out to the academy’s members, saying that their active participation was crucial to carrying out the institution’s mission.
Concerning the MTA’s role on the international stage, Freund vowed to work to deepen the international integration of Hungarian science.
Answering a question, Freund said he aimed to re-integrate the Academy’s research network into the MTA, which was separated from the institution last year.
His first task, however, he said was to build a “working relationship and mutual trust” with the government.
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Freund said he had previously worked to prevent the network’s separation from the institution and later, as a member of the newly-established Eötvös Loránd Research Network, to ensure that the research institutes continued to operate as seamlessly as possible.
He noted that
the government had significantly increased the research network’s budget, but said he still believed it was pointless for the research network to be separated from the academy.
Re-integrating the network into the MTA would settle a number of unresolved legal disputes, he added.
Freund was elected in a 24-hour online ballot at the Academy’s 193rd general meeting ending on Tuesday. He garnered 58.5 percent of the votes.
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