Published: Wed, April 12, 2017
Markets | By Erika Turner

Hungary: Thousands rally in support of Soros-founded school

Hungary: Thousands rally in support of Soros-founded school

Prime Minister Viktor Orban considers Soros an ideological foe whose "open society" ideals contrast with Orban's plan to make Hungary an "illiberal state".

Orban, an early supporter of US President Donald Trump, especially his anti-migrant stance and the vow to end America's "democracy export", said "goodwill" will lead the two governments and "therefore there is no reason for anyone to be nervous".

"His name is perhaps the strongest example of those who support anything that weakens nation states, they support everything that changes the traditional European lifestyle", Orban said in an interview on public radio Kossuth, as cited by Bloomberg. The protest ended about 0020 GMT on Tuesday. And, as the CEU has pointed out, these institutions are in reality often more local than American, in its case employing Hungarian staff, educating Hungarian students, and winning research grant money for Hungary.

Hungary has passed a bill which could force an a Soros funded university out the country.

The Hungarian government's efforts to shut down a university in Budapest drew a sharp rebuke from the EU's commissioner for justice.

"These people at the top, they don't realise that we don't live in Russian Federation, but in Hungary!" another protester, 23-year-old IT expert Viktor Szakal, told foreign media.

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If they do not follow through with that requirement , the scholarship will be converted to a loan. It's still unclear exactly how much the Excelsior Scholarship program will cost.

Orban alleges that nongovernmental organizations supported by Soros, including the anti-corruption agency Transparency International and rights advocate Hungarian Helsinki Committee, are "foreign agents" working against Hungarian interests.

"The final debate is about the migration question", Lajos Kosa, parliamentary leader of Orban's Fidesz party, said on broadcaster TV2.

Without such consent, the law will ban the university from enrolling new students after January 1, 2018, and force it to close in 2021. "The aim of the government is to ensure that all universities are governed by the same rules and there should not be privileges", he said.

They will also be required to have a campus and faculties in their home country - conditions not met by the CEU, which is registered in the United States.

George Soros pictured ahead of the start of his five-day-long lecture at the CEU in Budapest. It delivers both American and Hungarian diplomas. It has said it is committed to staying in Hungary.

The demonstration was the biggest since 2014 when protesters opposed Orban's right-wing government over a tax on internet usage, which was later withdrawn. But the situation with foreign universities is different, said Attila Juhasz, a political analyst at think tank Political Capital.

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