Budapest has been literally flooded with journalists of various European editions. In the focus of attention is a protest related to the possible closure of the Central European University (CEU), founded by billionaire George Soros. On the eve the Hungarian authorities adopted amendments to the law on higher education, according to which it becomes impossible to operate foreign universities that do not have a branch in their home country. CEU falls under the effect of an updated law, which received in the Western press the name «CEU law».
There are two points of view. The first is «street», it speaks about inadmissibility of restriction of the right to scientific researches, formation and so forth. «I am with CEU,» — under this slogan on 10 April in the Hungarian capital a massive action to support the Soros University was held. The second is official, says that CEU actually undermines the local education system, because it enjoys undeserved benefits to the detriment of the others HEIs. For example, two diplomas are awarded after graduating from the University: Hungarian and American samples. It is quite natural that this fact also «attracts» applicants to enter the faculties of «gender studies» or «studies of ethnic conflicts» in CEU.
«Attack on the CEU», «CEU under the gun», — the most frequently repeated headlines in the Western press. According to the plan, the protest in Budapest was organized in defense of the university, and in fact — against Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who publicly abandoned liberal democratic values in favor of national interests. It turns out, in Hungary an active phase of opposition to the imposition of a foreign and common policy of the European Union in the conditions of a large-scale migration crisis is launched.
The Ministry of Human Resources believes that CEU is misleading the public and scientists of the international level.
«Instead of compliance with legislative requirements, the University of Soros decided to try to preserve its privileges at all costs — in the process of which all means at the disposal of [the university] were used», — the head of the department Zoltan Balog said. So, the widespread thesis that amendments to the law on higher education are aimed against CEU is false. The university will be able to continue its activities after the conclusion of an appropriate agreement between the United States and Hungary.
The official representative of the Hungarian government Zoltan Kovacs on the air of the local television channel M1 specified that the adopted amendments do not create unworkable conditions for universities. There are 28 foreign higher educational institutions operating in the country, 27 of which are either partially illegal or do not operate at all. Violations were identified during the inspections, so a new framework was created in the education system, in which participants of the educational services market were asked to fit.
However, among 27 universities in Budapest «you can hear only one voice.» According to Kovacs, in the Soros University they decided to arrange a «storm of political hype,» which was unrelated to the case. He added that everyone in Hungary got used to the «political circus» in seven years.
The representative of the government stressed that in Germany or Switzerland foreign universities function on the basis of interstate agreements.
The scandal has come to Brussels
On 11 April European Commissioner for Education Tibor Navracic and European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans met with Hungarian Education Minister Laszlo Palkovic in Brussels.
Palkovic told the high-ranking officials that there was a «lying campaign of Soros» against CEU, there are misconceptions. The minister explained that the government does not intend to close the universities, but wants to equalize them. For example, if the institution issues a diploma not of the European model from outside Europe — it is necessary to have an interstate agreement, ratified by the Hungarian National Assembly.
«The CEU will have the opportunity to continue its activities unhindered, if Hungary and the United States agree», — he stressed.
The press office of the government added that the organizations, financed by George Soros, «deliberately carry out a campaign of disinformation.» Amendments to the law on higher education are used to launch a «comprehensive campaign against Hungary, the true cause and purpose of which is to put pressure on the migration policy» of local authorities. It is also stressed that the participants of the protest action in defense of the CEU criticized the immigration policy of the government.
In this context, it is noteworthy that in autumn of 2016 CEU announced the recruitment of migrants for the audit of knowledge in basic courses (social sciences, politics and mathematics). The interview does not give the right to receive the CEU diploma, nor provide an opportunity to enter the study, the CEU announces. The administration of the university reported that every refugee registered in Hungary has the right to such an audit. To attend seminars, only English is required.
And, moreover, in an open letter CEU accuses the Hungarian authorities of «misunderstanding the US Constitution,» condemns the improvement of legislation in the field of education.
«The deadlines set in the final form of legislation are even more punitive than in previous versions, and the requirement that foreign institutions such as CEU get permission from the US federal authorities does not seem to understand the US Constitution,» — is stated in the letter, under which the CEU staff collected a sufficiently large number of signatures of scientists. American laws give grounds for obtaining higher education in the states, the CEU has been working since 2004 under such an agreement between the Governor of New York and the then Prime Minister of Hungary.
As a result, the rector of CEU Michael Ignatiev announced his intention to challenge the constitutionality of the Hungarian legislation and appealed the government for dialogue.
What’s that about migrants?
Meanwhile, in the Western press the latest news is: about 2 o’clock in the morning the protesters hung the flag of the European Union over the building of the Hungarian radio station. This is written by Lili Bayer from Budapest for the publication of «Politico».
«About a dozen refugees in Subotica, who agreed to share their experiences, all described the brutality of the Hungarian police,» — she wrote in an article for Politiko on 8 March.
The topic of the migration crisis was raised the day before by UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees).
At the end of March, immigration legislation was tightened in Hungary. Illegal migrants (in the UN read: refugees who have not yet decided on the status) are now placed in special camps, in which transport containers will be installed.
For the whole of Hungary there is a little more than three hundred containers. The point is that people from the Arab countries generally will be limited by the freedom of movement around the country at the time of consideration of their applications for temporary asylum. At the same time, the authorities noted that all necessary conditions will be created in the camps. The measure was introduced in view of the burst of terrorist attacks in Europe.
On the border with Serbia, a high fencing with barbed wire is built, equipped with night vision cameras, electricity is supplied to the fence. The matter is that the Serbian Subotica is the main point through which migrants penetrate into the countries of the European Union.
Thus, in the event that the Hungarian authorities consider in the applicant, for example, a potential terrorist, measures will be taken prematurely.
In the UN this practice is called inhumane, since «people who fled from war and violence are placed in transport containers, covered with a high barbed wire fence.»
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi called on all states to suspend the movement of migrants to Hungary, until the country is brought legislation to European standards.
«Extraordinary measures», adopted in Hungary in accordance with amendments to the law on granting asylum, provide for mandatory detention of asylum seekers and expulsion of all those who enter the country without appropriate permits. UNHCR noted that such an approach is a serious violation of the country’s obligation under international law», — the UN is concerned.
In this case, the violence, reported by the journalist Lily Bayer, is understood as the fact of the detention of migrants during the inspection, their settlement in camps on the border, fenced along the perimeter with barbed wire. And Filippo Grandi urges the Hungarian authorities to investigate all reports of violations of the rights of asylum seekers, and to prevent such violence.
That is, the Soros University is connected with the migration crisis and politics by very thin ideological threads. Concerns of local authorities to prevent the mass penetration of foreign citizens into the country with criminal past and present in order to avoid acts of terrorism go beyond the framework of the advanced concept of society transformation. Therefore, any convenient pretext will be used to the maximum as an element of pressure on local authorities. In this case, in fact: the US CEU opposes the Hungarian government, and Hoyt Yee, the deputy assistant secretary of the US State Department, will continue to be concerned, but to call Hungary an ally.