After the Central European University in Budapest announced it would partially relocate to Vienna given the Hungarian government’s hostility to civil society institutions, 45 foundation leaders have unified to condemn the violence directed towards civil society activists.
The Board of Trustees of Central European University (CEU) announced that incoming students for its U.S accredited masters and doctoral programmes will study at a new campus in Vienna beginning in the 2019-2020 academic year. The Trustees authorised the move as of 1 December 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 joint statement defiantly named ‘A time to stand together’ reads:
‘Around the world, civil society including academics, journalists and philanthropists, courageously pursue their mission, often at great personal cost.
‘We are a group of leaders of private philanthropic foundations committed to strong and vibrant civil society. A healthy, functioning democracy depends on it.
‘We condemn the violence directed to civil society activists globally. We deplore the growing climate of fear and intolerance in which civil society is publicly demonized, physically threatened and administratively shut down.
‘We stand side by side with our civil society peers.
‘Civil society is an essential pillar of democracy. Without it, our democracy is diminished.
‘We are proud to support it. We stand ready to defend it.’
For more on Hungary see:
- Solidarity fund for democracy in Europe announced – Charles Keidan, Alliance magazine
- As Hungary slides towards autocracy, what can philanthropy do? – Robin Nobel, Rothschild Foundation Hanadiv Europe