Hungary's president signs bill aimed at Soros-founded school

Hungary's president signs bill aimed at Soros-founded school

The protesters chanted slogans urging President Janos Ader to ask the Constitutional Court to review the new law adopted by parliament last week that is likely to lead to the closure of the CEU. The letter extols CEU's global reputation in the social sciences and humanities; stresses the importance of its academic independence; and charges that the legislation is discriminatory in effect and the results would "endanger the academic freedom vital for the CEU's continued operation in Budapest and set a risky precedent for academic life in other countries".

Late on Monday hundreds of protesters walked to the state radio office, in a spontaneous rally, and put up a European Union flag on the building, according to a video posted on local website Index.

The law, which passed through the parliament in less than a week, would require the university to change its name and open a campus in the United States.

Civil society Mr Soros founded CEU in 1991 as an element of his broad backing for democracy, transparency and civil society in the former communist bloc - goals that are also pursued by several influential NGOs that he funds in Hungary and the region.

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Orban earlier said CEU was "cheating" and enjoyed an unfair advantage over other local schools because its students can earn both US and Hungarian diplomas.

"We hope that the government of Hungary is going to engage in serious, urgent and good-faith talks with Central European University, as well as other affected institutions", Yee said during a visit to Budapest Tuesday. "We don't want to have universities that are just issuing diplomas based on any kind of accreditation without any control". "Let's stop Viktor Orbán", "Free country, free university!" and "We have had enough!".

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Hoyt Yee said in Budapest on April 11 that the legislation "very clearly targets" the CEU "and threatens this important American-Hungarian institution".

Orban considers the Hungarian-born Soros an ideological foe whose "open society" ideals contrast with Orban's plan to make Hungary an "illiberal state".

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Embassy Charge d' Affaires David Kostelancik also said that Washington will continue to advocate for CEU's "unhindered operation in Hungary".

Amendments to Hungary's higher education law approved this week could force it to close or move.

"The government is always looking for someone to fight with, and Soros seems like a flawless person for this because he funds NGOs in Hungary and he funds CEU as well", Klopfstein added.

Opposition parties were quick to criticize Ader, a Fidesz politician who was re-elected by lawmakers to a five-year term in March.

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A law expected to be passed in May would force NGOs getting more than 7.2 million forints ($24,500) a year from overseas to register with authorities.

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