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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Institut für Sozialwissenschaften

Support for CEU

Dear Petra Kammerevert, Frans Timmermans and Tibor
Navracsics, Dear German Members of the European Parliament,
 
 
As concerned educators and researchers we, the faculty of the Department of Social Sciences at Humboldt University of Berlin, are writing to express our discontent about recent modifications to the National Higher Education Act passed by the Hungarian Parliament on April 4, 2017 and signed into law by the President of Hungary on April 10, 2017. The new legislation makes the continued operation of Central European University (CEU) in Budapest nearly impossible and is an extraordinary violation of the integrity and freedom of an institution of higher education in the European Union. These modifications are discriminatory, as several of its passages target only CEU, and it was passed without regard to due procedure thereby threatening not only academic freedom but also the rule of law in Hungary and the European Union.
 
CEU was founded in 1991 by a distinguished group of Europeans – including then President of Hungary Arpad Goncz; then President of Czechoslovakia Vaclav Havel; Polish historian Bronislaw Geremek, who later became Poland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs; and Hungarian-American philanthropist George Soros – to support the transition from Communism to freedom through education. In the past 25 years CEU has become an internationally esteemed private university, whose reputation in teaching and research in the social sciences and humanities is incontestable. With students from 117 countries and faculty from 40 – the largest portion of whom are from European Union member states – CEU is both a
European and an American institution with a truly global reach. We have many esteemed colleagues and collaborators at CEU and it’s importance as a center for free academic discourse in Eastern Europe cannot be overstated.
 
We join CEU in strongly contesting the new legislation. CEU has received support and expressions of solidarity from all over the world, including 20 Nobel Laureates, EU Commissioners, the president of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier, former U.N. General Kofi Annan, top American universities, including Harvard, Princeton, Yale and MIT, as well as Oxford and Cambridge. Further, CEU has garnered significant local support in Hungary including the President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the major Hungarian universities and largest student organizations. On April 9, 2017, tens of thousands of concerned citizens marched through Budapest in a peaceful protest of the government’s actions
 
While CEU is seeking all possible legal remedies, the appeals process will take time, and this
legislation must be stopped immediately for CEU to continue operating in Budapest. Leaders of European countries, the European Commission, and the European Parliament can and must defend academic freedom and the integrity of universities operating within the European Union. We urge you to act now to do everything in your power to stop this legislation and defend the academic freedom in the European Union.
 
Sincerely,
 
Prof. Dr. Johannes Giesecke
Chair of the Department of Social Sciences
Humboldt University of Berlin
 
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