The Department of Classical Studies of the Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University, wishes to express support to the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary, which currently faces unprecedented political pressure that aims at the termination of its activity in its current seat.
We are gravely concerned about recent modifications to the National Higher Education Act passed by the Hungarian Parliament on April 4, 2017 and signed into law by the President of Hungary on April 10, 2017. The new legislation makes the continued operation of Central European University (CEU) in Budapest nearly impossible and is an extraordinary violation of the integrity and freedom of an institution of higher education. These modifications are discriminatory, as several of its passages target only CEU, and it was passed without regard to due procedure thereby threatening not only academic freedom but also the rule of law in Hungary and the European Union.
CEU was founded in 1991 by a distinguished group of Europeans – including then President of Hungary Arpad Goncz; then President of Czechoslovakia Vaclav Havel; Polish historian Bronislaw Geremek, who later became Poland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs; and Hungarian-American philanthropist George Soros – to support the transition from Communism to freedom through education. In the past 25 years CEU has become an internationally esteemed private university, whose reputation in teaching and research in the social sciences and humanities is incontestable. With students from 117 countries and faculty from 40 – the largest portion of whom are from European Union member states – CEU is both a European and an American institution with a truly global reach.
At the time of mounting populist authoritarian tendencies and challenges to the basic liberal values of pluralist democracy throughout Central Europe less than three decades after the Fall of Communist regimes, we consider it imperative to resist any pressure aimed at infringing academic freedoms as well as the activity of institutions of independent research describing the world on the basis of scientific method and not ideology.