After days of protests and international critics, the Hungarian government has sent its education minister to Brussels to defend a controversial law that critics say will effectively close the Central European University, funded by billionaire financier George Soros.
The message from Laszlo Palkovich was clear: our legislation is in line with the legislation of other EU countries and is not aimed unfairly at the university.
“The Hungarian government does not want to close any university – neither the Hungarian universities nor any of the universities owned by Mr. [George] Soros, ”Palkovich said at a press conference.
Most likely, the government conducted a general survey of 28 foreign institutions in Hungary and “found different types of anomalies” in 27 of them, he said. “We don’t want to have universities that simply issue diplomas on the basis of any accreditation without supervision.”
He added that Viktor Orban’s government was “absolutely open to finding a solution to the current situation.”
Polkovic was in Brussels for meetings with the European Commission and Tibor Navracic, Hungary’s education officer, who last week criticized controversial education bill.
Polkovic said his meeting with Navracic went well. “I think he understood that what was happening in Hungary had nothing to do with the autonomy of the university. Nobody wants to close universities. “
And he said he did not expect the Commission to act on the bill. “I do not think the Commission will have any negative opinion,” he said.
However, the representative of the Commission stressed that on Wednesday the Board of Commissioners will discuss legal issues related to Hungary, based on the presentation of First Vice President Frans Zimmermans.
The vice president has a reputation for being harsh on non-compliant countries, but Polkovich, who met with Zimmermans later Tuesday, was not worried. “I don’t want to seem overconfident,” he said. “But I think … I’ll be able to convince him, too.”