Those who have been campaigning on the premise that the Central European University (CEU) has been shuttered have clearly not been telling the truth, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in his latest “samizdat” letter published also in English on his website on Saturday.
In the letter, entitled The persecuted, expelled university in Budapest, Orbán said: “The time is out of joint! A conference has been held in the CEU building on Nádor utca, a major street in the heart of Budapest”.
He said he had been hearing for years “from liberal politicians and their supporters in the media that the Hungarian government has closed down the Central European University and driven it out of Budapest”.
Making reference to news reports, Orbán said that on Thursday and Friday an international conference open to the press was held at CEU’s Budapest campus which was attended by prominent representatives from liberal academia and political life.
“How could such a thing happen? Clearly it is because those who have been campaigning on the premise that the university has been shuttered have not been telling the truth,” the prime minister said.
“We Hungarians are not surprised: we know how George Soros and his team work. The Hungarian speculator has always been adept at making actions against his business enterprises look like appalling social injustices – or even wicked anti-Semitic attacks against him personally,” he said.
He lamented asking the question “what could have been in the minds of the illustrious academics, politicians and intellectuals who attended and spoke at this conference?”.
“How did they reconcile their appearance at the university with the lie that the CEU had been run out of Budapest by the Hungarian government? I wonder how these academics, professionals and politicians feel now, having lost all professional credibility after swallowing the lie propagated by George Soros and his global network?”, Orbán said. He added that “this is embarrassing – very embarrassing” and that “perhaps someone should organise a conference on that subject at the CEU campus in Budapest”.
He said Hungary has been attacked over the issue of the Soros university because it refused “to allow the billionaire speculator to continue his abuse of power”.
“In the 1990s, Soros’s loyal ally Bálint Magyar – education minister in a governing coalition of liberals and ex-communists – introduced a rule that gave the Soros University an unfair competitive advantage over Hungarian universities. We closed this loophole by requiring that all foreign universities with a presence in Hungary operate under the same conditions and comply with Hungary’s higher education legislation. With one exception,
all such universities fulfilled those regulatory conditions without any problems. That single exception was the Soros University.
For its founder there was greater benefit to be gained by crying wolf and organizing an international campaign against Hungary than by simply giving up the privileges he had acquired,” Orbán said.
Orbán concluded his paper providing “a shortlist for the biggest liar and lie” that includes Guy Verhofstadt, former leader of the EP’s parliamentary group of Liberals, saying that “Europe is disgraced”. Orbán further mentioned green MEP Judith Sargentini, who said in a short film she had produced on Hungary that “the Central European University is forced out of the country”. At third place, he mentioned the European Commission’s 2020 country report on Hungary which referred to “the end of the Central European University’s academic activities in Hungary”.
“The true disgrace for the whole European Union is that these demonstrably false allegations are being used as the basis for EU legal proceedings,” Orbán said, adding the paper with the question “Quo vadis Europa?”.