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CEU responds to Szijjártó, says it has met requirements

The Central European University (CEU) has responded to Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártóʼs comments last week, indicating that it is fulfilling all legal requirements, and that it now operates in the State of New York, as well as in Budapest.

"In response to Péter Szijjártó’s indications that CEU enjoyed or requests ʼprivileges,ʼ CEU reiterates that it has always conformed to Hungarian law, and currently fulfills the requirements of the Hungarian legislation on higher education passed in spring 2017," the statement reads.

According to a press release sent to the Budapest Business Journal, Leslie E. Templeman, director for the Office of College and University Evaluation of the New York State Education Department, wrote a letter to several members of the Hungarian government in late August.

"I am pleased to provide the following update to my letter of June 20, 2018, concerning Central European University’s educational activities in New York State," Templeman wrote. "In addition to the Advanced Certificate program in Inequality Analysis which Central European University continues to offer at its location in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, in collaboration with Bard College; beginning in the Fall 2018 academic semester, Central European University will also be operating an extension site in New York City, New York, at which the University will be delivering courses in its registered two-year Master of Arts (M.A.) program in International Relations. "

According to CEU, László Palkovics, then state secretary for education, and Deputy State Secretary Kristóf Altusz visited CEUʼs New York facilities this April. Altusz also indicated last fall that the Hungarian government did not wish to make changes to the text of the draft agreement between the two entities, the press release says.

"CEU remains available at any time to discuss these matters with representatives of the Hungarian government and to secure a solution that enables CEU to remain in Budapest," the statement adds.

Last week, 22 members of the U.S. Congress addressed a letter to U.S. Ambassador to Hungary David B. Cornstein expressing support for CEU in its struggles to remain open in Hungary. The move was the latest in a long series of acts of open criticism of the Hungarian governmentʼs education policy, from the U.S. government, EU bodies, other international institutions and academics, as well as in the form of mass protests at home throughout spring 2017.