Sunday, 22 October, 2017

Demonstrations in Hungary to support Central European University

Budapest 2017. április 2. Résztvevõk vonulnak az Oktatási szabadságot csoport Most a CEU de ki a következõ?- Tüntetés a szabad oktatásért címmel tartott demonstrációján Budapesten a Múzeum körúton 2017. április 2-án. MTI Fotó Kov Hungarian charities fear proposed law aims to 'discredit' them
Garry Little | 11 April, 2017, 00:28

The rules are admittedly targeting organisations funded by Soros, a Hungarian-born American financier who for decades has given away billions of dollars of his fortune to support causes of a liberal "open society" worldwide.

Hungarians rose up in one of the largest protests against the seven-year rule of right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Sunday, protesting against new legislation that could force out one of the country's top global universities.

Protesters filling Kossuth Square outside the parliament said they want President Janos Ader to veto the legislation.

"I think that the frustration of the people against this government has increased so much, that many are also here among those who doesn't even know what CEU is", said an ex-CEU student.

CEU enrolls over 1,400 students from 108 countries and offers master's and doctoral degrees in disciplines ranging from the social sciences to law, business and public policy.

At least 50,000 people - organisers say as many as 80,000 protesters - took part in the demonstration.

Ader also called on the government to "immediately" begin talks with the affected institutions to secure compliance with the new rules.

Central European University was founded by billionaire philanthropist George Soros in 1991, and promotes his "open society" ideals which contrast with the Orban's efforts to establish a more restricted democracy in Hungary. "CEU ... is the training ground for the opponents of Putin and other illiberal politicians", Robert Braun, a former political consultant, said in an article published in the hvg.hu online magazine. The ministry said the amendment of the Act on Hungarian education did not affect the work of the Hungarian part of the CEU, which could continue to work as a Hungarian institution, as soon as the leadership of the two countries - the United States and Hungary - sign an agreement of mutual support.

"These people at the top, they don't realise that we don't live in Russian Federation, but in Hungary!" another protester, 23-year-old IT expert Viktor Szakal, told foreign media.

Several global reporters in the country said it was the largest or among the largest anti-government protests of Orban's seven-year reign.

Soros hit back, saying in a statement that while he tried to "uphold European values", Orban's actions "undermined those values".

"The situation is that in Hungary we are not closing a single university", Orban said Monday in parliament.

A law expected to be passed in May would force NGOs getting more than 7.2 million forints ($24,500) a year from overseas to register with authorities.

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