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György Schöpflin, Historian and Former Fidesz MEP, Dies Aged 81

Hungary Today 2021.11.19.

György Schöpflin (also known as George Schöpflin), historian, politician, university professor, and former Fidesz member of the European Parliament passed away on Friday at the age of 81.

György Schöpflin, a former university teacher, and professor of political science was a Fidesz MEP between 2004 and 2019.

He was the grandson of Aladár Schöpflin, critic, literary translator, and son of writer Gyula Schöpflin. He lived in the UK from 1950 to 2004, gaining his secondary education certificate in Scotland, followed by an MA in 1960 and an LLB in 1962 from the University of Glasgow, and a Certificate of Advanced European Studies from the College of Europe, Bruges, in 1963.

In the same year, György Schöpflin became an employee of the Chatham House research institute, and between 1967 and 1976 he worked as a journalist for the BBC. Later, he worked at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London from 1963–67, followed by a spell at the BBC until 1976. He then returned to academia at the London School of Economics, becoming a lecturer in Eastern Europe and then jointly ran the institution’s famous seminar in communist politics and society. Schöpflin later moved on to the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University of London, and later part of University College London, becoming Jean Monnet Professor of Politics in 1998. In 2004, he was elected a member of the European Parliament. He has not taught at UCL since, but he taught at the Forlì Branch of the University of Bologna until 2011.

In 1993 he joined the Fidesz party, and in 2004 he became an MEP in Strasbourg. He was subsequently re-elected twice, holding this position until 2019.

Several people have commemorated him already.

“Fidesz has learned with great shock and sorrow that its former MEP, György Schöpflin, has passed away. He represented the interests of Hungary in Brussels since the country’s EU membership until 2019. We will not forget his activity for the homeland. Fidesz shares in the family’s pain,” Hungary’s ruling party wrote. “Over three parliamentary terms, he represented Hungarian interests successfully and with outstanding dedication,” their statement read.

“Dear Professor, dear Gyuri! Thank you for the long conversations. May you rest in peace,” wrote KDNP MEP György Hölvényi.

“Professor György Schöpflin, MEP, held on to his belief in the diversity of the European Union until the end. We have lost a great professional authority and an excellent person,” wrote MEP and former Minister of Justice, László Trócsányi.

Featured photo by László Beliczay/MTI