CEU alumni: Orbán interferes with academic freedom

Slovak CEU alumni and other academics criticise the Hungarian government for "unprecedented attempts to limit academic freedom".

Protest for academic freedom in Hungary. Protest for academic freedom in Hungary. (Source: TASR)

The development around the Central European University in Hungary has confirmed that last year’s change in the law was a politically motivated step of the Hungarian government against the freedom of thought, research, and expression in Hungary, a group of Slovak academics and CEU alumni wrote in an open letter to the Hungarian government.

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Read also: Alumni of CEU about its ousting: It was a matter of time Read more 

The signatories brought the letter to the Hungarian Embassy in Bratislava on November 30, one day before the possibility for the CEU to remain in Budapest will elapse. The university is expected to move to Vienna.

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“We express our disagreement against the steps of the Hungarian government that clearly interfere with the principles of academic freedom,” the letter reads. Its signatories pointed out that this happens despite the fact that academic freedom is a centuries-old tradition in Europe, while the Viktor Orbán government talks about the need to protect European traditions.

“We have not seen such attempts to limit academic freedom in central Europe since the fall of the Iron Curtain,” the letter reads. The academics and CEU alumni who signed the letter pledge that they will remain alert and will protest everything that attempts to attack academic freedom.

Hundreds of Slovaks are students or alumni of the CEU, and many of the current students will be directly impacted by its departure from Budapest, the signatories noted.

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Among the 44 signatories is also Slovak MEP Jana Žitňanská and political scientist Sona Szomolányi.

“It is not about Orbán, he will not even notice it, but he is not the only addressee after all,” Szomolányi said. “The important thing is that this unprecedented attack on academic freedom is called out and that we are not left with just resigned silence.”

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