Hungary's president late on Monday ( April 10) signed legislation on foreign universities that could force a top global school founded by United States financier George Soros out of the country, triggering a fresh protest in Budapest against the move.
The bill, passed by right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban's Fidesz party, imposed new rules under which the CEU must operate, making it impossible to award diplomas because it is formally registered in the United States.
Palkovics was in Brussels for meetings with the European Commission and Tibor Navracsics, Hungary's member of the Commission who is in charge of education and who last week criticized the controversial education bill.
"His name is perhaps the strongest example of those who support anything that weakens nation states, they support everything that changes the traditional European lifestyle", Orban said in an interview on public radio Kossuth, as cited by Bloomberg.
Another protest is scheduled for Wednesday.
Numerous protesters were dressed in blue - the color of the CEU - and held flags of the European Union and Hungary.
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The bill signed into law Monday by President Janos Ader sets some new conditions for foreign universities in Hungary, some seem aimed specifically at CEU.
Government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs denied in a blog post on Thursday that the CEU was being singled out, saying that irregularities had been found with 27 foreign higher education institutions.
Momentum Movement, a new opposition party whose campaign recently led Budapest to abandon its bid for the 2024 Olympic Games, said Ader was "hiding behind laws" and more interested in keeping his job than challenging the legislation.
Rawlings sent a letter of support April 5 to Michael Ignatieff, president and rector of CEU, expressing concern about the "efforts by the government of Hungary to undermine CEU's ability to continue to function as a world-leading institution of higher education". He said he believes the legislation "limits the freedom to academic research, studies and education as well as to the right to culture... further limits the freedom to academic research, studies and education... clearly discriminates against CEU..." The CEU has 1,800 students from 100 countries and is ranked in the top 50 universities for political and worldwide studies in the World University Rankings list. "The aim of the government is to ensure that all universities are governed by the same rules and there should not be privileges", he said. CEU only has a campus in Budapest. It has said it is committed to staying in Hungary.
Orban, who has vowed to end liberal democracy in the European Union country of nearly 10 million people, is stepping up a campaign to sideline independent voices a year before parliament elections that he's expected to win. But the situation with foreign universities is different, said Attila Juhasz, a political analyst at think tank Political Capital.
"If they can do that to CEU, they can do whatever they want!"