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Hungary will not soften laws to allow CEU to stay

Hungary will not relax rules for international universities despite pressure from the European Union and offers from Germany to mediate in a row over the Central European University (CEU), which was founded by the U.S. billionaire George Soros, the government spokesman told news wire reuters.com.

"There is no change in our core view," spokesman Zoltán Kovács told Reuters. "We will not change the laws and regulations that govern higher education in Hungary. We still operate on that basis."

CEU, set up by Soros, a Hungarian-born liberal philanthropist, will move part of its operations to Vienna from September because of new Hungarian rules forbidding it to issue U.S. degrees. At the initiative of Manfred Weber, the lead candidate of the European Peopleʼs Party (EPP) to head the EU executive after Mayʼs European paliamentary elections, the government of the German state of Bavaria and the Technical University of Munich stepped in to offer help.

CEU Rector Michael Ignatieff was not immediately available to comment. He said in a statement last month that to reverse a plan to leave Budapest, CEU wanted a clear political commitment from Prime Minister Viktor Orbán that it could issue degrees freely.

"This political commitment (must be) backed up by legislation that provides legally binding authorization for all of CEU’s operations in Budapest," Ignatieff said at the time.