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CEU to Open Vienna Campus for U.S. Degrees in 2019; University Determined to Uphold Academic Freedom

The Board of Trustees of Central European University (CEU) announced today that incoming students for its U.S.-accredited masters and doctoral programs will study at a new campus in Vienna beginning in the academic year 2019-20. The Trustees authorized the move as of December 1, 2018 because the Hungarian government has not concluded an agreement allowing CEU to operate in freedom in Hungary as a U.S. institution chartered in New York State.

„We have taken all necessary actions in order to comply with Lex CEU. We have repeatedly indicated our openness to find a solution that guarantees our institutional integrity and academic freedom. We have waited as long as we possibly can,“ said CEU President and Rector Michael Ignatieff. „But it would be irresponsible for us not to pursue arrangements to secure CEU’s future. Unfortunately, we have been forced into this decision by the unwillingness of the Hungarian government to offer an acceptable solution.“

The decision comes in the face of the Hungarian government’s crackdown on academic freedom, including a government ban on gender studies programs, the forced suspension of research related to migration, and punitive tax measures.

CEU has sought to remain in operation in Budapest, its home for more than 25 years. But the Hungarian Government has kept CEU in legal limbo since April 2017.

„For 18 months, we have defended our right to remain as a U.S. degree-granting institution in Budapest, but we are unable to secure the guarantees we need from the Hungarian government to preserve our academic freedom,“ said Ignatieff.

„CEU remains committed to Budapest and will continue to enhance the intellectual and cultural life of the city,“ added Ignatieff. „We will maintain as much research and educational activity in Budapest as possible.“

Since Lex CEU, the University has worked to find a solution that would guarantee its academic freedom. The State of New York successfully negotiated an agreement with Hungary allowing CEU to retain its American accreditation. CEU is in full compliance with the conditions required by the government.

CEU established educational programs with our partner institution, Bard College. In compliance with that draft agreement, Hungarian authorities inspected these programs and the New York State Board of Education confirmed to the Hungarian authorities that CEU was in compliance with the agreement by offering educational activity in the State of New York.

Nevertheless, the Hungarian authorities have indicated that they would not sign the New York State agreement. All attempts to find a solution that would enable CEU to remain as a U.S. degree-granting institution in Budapest have failed.

“CEU has received a warm welcome from both the City of Vienna and the Government of Austria for which we are deeply grateful,” said Leon Botstein, Chair of the CEU Board of Trustees. “We look forward to offering students from more than 90 countries the opportunity to study in another great Central European capital.”

“The move signals CEU’s return to its original vision of multiple campuses,” said Botstein, who has been involved with the university since the idea was raised in 1990.

The CEU Board of Trustees and President and Rector Ignatieff recognized the efforts of U.S. Ambassador David Cornstein. „We are grateful to Ambassador David Cornstein for his exceptional efforts to defend CEU. We also thank the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Congress, the Office of the Governor of the State of New York, and the New York State Education Department for their best efforts.“

„In addition, we thank the tens of thousands of supporters from around the world, including several dozen Nobel Prize winners, the late Kofi Annan, university leadership from Oxford to Columbia to Stanford, and thousands of Hungarian academics and individuals. We will never forget your support and your friendship,“ Ignatieff said.

In 2019-20, first-year students will start in Vienna, and will receive U.S.-accredited degrees. Already enrolled students may remain in Budapest to complete their degrees. Further decisions on locations for staff and faculty will be made in consultation within the CEU community.

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ROUNDING UP THE HOMELESS IN HUNGARY

In mid-June, when the Hungarian ministry of justice was working on the seventh amendment to the constitution, aimed primarily at civic organizations, the Orbán government in the last minute added a new amendment (Article XXII[3]), which in its final form reads: “In order to protect public order, public security, public health and cultural values, an Act or a local government decree may, with respect to a specific part of public space, provide that staying in public space as a habitual dwelling shall be illegal.” The new law was to take effect on October 15. Since then, 101 people have received warnings and three were arrested. The real horror of the law becomes obvious only in the directives accompanying it. Here are some of the details. After three warnings within 90 days, the homeless person will be arrested and jailed while waiting for his sentencing, but if the homeless person is not cooperative, he can be jailed immediately. When can the police intervene? If the homeless person “is seen often and regularly within a limited time washing, dressing himself, or keeping a dog.” If arrested, he will spend a maximum of 72 hours in preliminary detention until the case is decided in court. In the first instance, the person can be reprimanded, sentenced to public work, or, in the case of a recidivist, given a jail term. The person will be responsible for all or part of the court costs.

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ON 15TH OCTOBER, THE GOVERNMENT SHIFTS TO HIGH GEAR IN THE PERSECUTION OF VULNERABLE GROUPS

Whenever there’s public dissent or the government finds no solution to a social problem, governments of the Fidesz party resorts to prohibition or punishment. Harassment and discrimination of the homeless people has been ongoing for long, but this new level of persecution of homelessness began at the time of the second Fidesz government and has continuously been on Fidesz’s agenda ever since. In summer 2018, the two third majority of the parliament banned homelessness in the whole country, making the lives of one of the most vulnerable social groups even harder. The Law on Petty Offences was modified along the seventh amendment to the Fundamental Law, which enters into force on 15th October 2018.

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Report to the Hungarian Government on the visit to Hungary carried out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 20 to 26 October 2017

The CPT is pleased to note that its delegation received no allegations of ill-treatment by staff in any of the establishments visited. However, a significant number of foreign nationals interviewed by the delegation alleged that they had been physically ill-treated by Hungarian police officers in the
context of their apprehension and return through the border fence towards Serbia (push-backs). A number of foreign nationals met by the delegation displayed recent traumatic injuries which, in the view of the delegation’s doctor, were consistent with their allegations of ill-treatment.

The CPT recalls that the prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights entails the obligation not to send a person to a country where there are substantial grounds for believing that he/she would run a real
risk of being subjected to torture or ill-treatment (refoulement). The principle of non-refoulement applies not only in respect of return to the country of origin, but also to any other country to which removal is to be effected or any other country to which the person may subsequently be removed (“chain refoulement”). Consequently, it is essential that foreign nationals have effective access to an asylum procedure which involves an individual assessment of the risk of ill-treatment in the case of
a forcible removal, on the basis of an objective and independent analysis of the human rights situation in the countries concerned.

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Strache schlägt Orbán gemeinsame Fraktion vor

Österreichs Vizekanzler Heinz-Christian Strache von der rechtspopulistischen FPÖ hat dem ungarischen Regierungschef Viktor Orbán die Bildung einer gemeinsamen Fraktion im Europäischen Parlament vorgeschlagen. Er lade Orbán und dessen Fidesz-Partei ein, künftig in einem gemeinsamen EU-Block zusammenzuarbeiten, erklärte Strache am Montag bei Facebook.

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CDU ändert Kurs gegen Orbán

Die EU sollte nach Einschätzung der CDU der ungarischen Regierung mit einem Sanktionsverfahren drohen, wenn diese im Streit um Rechtsstaatsprinzipien nicht einlenkt. CDU-Generalsekretärin Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer sagte am Montag in Berlin, für eine solche Position im Europäischen Parlament habe EVP-Fraktionschef Manfred Weber Unterstützung bekommen. „Er hat gesagt, ‚Es gibt keinen Rabatt für EVP-Mitglieder'“, sagte sie.

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