Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and American financier George Soros had a phone conversation last summer over the future of the Central European University (CEU) in Budapest, Hungarian weekly Figyelő reported.
Main building of the Central European University (CEU) in Budapest’s 5th district
According to the journal’ sources, the Hungarian Premier had pledged not to abolish the English-language university, which is often regarded as the main pillar of the Soros-backed NGO network in Hungary and Central Europe. However, since that phone call, the political climate has completely changed: Donald Trump won the presidential election in the United States and the Hungarian government launched a renewed “attack” against those Soros-backed NGO’s that allegedly “trying to influence Hungarian domestic politics”.
An unnamed “CEU source” told Figyelő they have had a very good cooperation with the government, therefore they do not see the point of the idea. “Such attack would be like a shot in the government’s own leg”, it said. “If CEU get axed, no other institutes will be safe in Hungary”, the source noted.
The rival Hungarian universities, however, may welcome the removal of CEU from Budapest. Although less than 20 percent of CEU’s professors and students are Hungarians, it wins 95 percent of the EU-funded research programs in Hungary. Furthermore, CEU is labelled as an “opposition university” due to its ideological background that regularly confronts with the Hungarian government in several fields, including the refugee crisis, gender and cultural policies.