Transatlantic Democracy Working Group declares support for CEU

History

Members and supporters of the bipartisan Transatlantic Democracy Working Group (TDWG) of former U.S. government officials, national security experts and scholars are the latest to declare support for Budapest始s Central European University (CEU), denouncing the Hungarian government始s steps to drive the institution out of the country.

The document is signed by 68 members and supporters of the group, including world famous political scientist Dr. Francis Fukuyama, according to a press release sent to the Budapest Business Journal.

鈥淎 crackdown on academic freedom is one of a series of dangerous developments in Hungary under the leadership of Prime Minister Viktor Orb谩n,鈥 reads the statement. 鈥淭he campaign against the CEU is a highly symbolic move against a vital institution founded to promote the transatlantic values of democracy, openness, and equality of opportunity.鈥

Describing the government始s actions as 鈥渁 serious blow to academic freedom in Hungary,鈥 the statement notes that CEU enjoys 鈥渟upport across the political spectrum in the United States and at all levels of our government.鈥 It acknowledges the efforts of U.S. officials to find a solution to the impasse, particularly U.S. Ambassador to Hungary David Cornstein, and describes the unwillingness of the Hungarian government to 鈥渞eciprocate in a principled manner鈥 as 鈥渁n insult that damages the future of U.S.-Hungarian relations.鈥

鈥淲hen an illiberal leader takes adversarial action against an institution with U.S. roots, the U.S. must acknowledge this as a breach, say so publicly, and hold the government to account through clear, responsive action,鈥 the statement adds. 鈥淎s a member of NATO, we must also ensure that Hungary is accountable in upholding democratic freedoms; NATO鈥檚 strength depends on it.鈥

The statement alludes to 鈥渃onsequences for the bilateral relationship,鈥 and calls for the U.S. 鈥渢o stand tough against Hungary鈥檚 illiberal challenge and continue to publicly hold the government of Hungary accountable, including from high levels in DC, for its attack on academic freedom, democratic institutions, and principles.鈥

The full statement and list of signatories can be found here.

In late October, the Board of Trustees of CEU announced that incoming students for its U.S.-accredited master始s and doctoral programs will study at its new Vienna campus from the academic year 2019-20. The board authorized the move as of December 1, 2018, as the Hungarian government has still not signed a draft agreement with the State of New York allowing CEU to freely operate in Hungary as a U.S. institution chartered in New York State.

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