Trump Administration Needs to Take Stronger Action on Hungary’s Central European University
New York City—In response to the announcement by Central European University (CEU) that it will be forced to leave Budapest, Hungary if the government of Hungary does not agree to a deal on its future by December 1, 2018, Human Rights First’s Senior Vice President for Policy Rob Berschinski issued the following statement:
There is nothing standing in the way of CEU staying in Hungary other than Viktor Orbán’s desire to eliminate yet another source of independent thinking. The Trump Administration has made clear that maintaining CEU's presence in Hungary is a top priority. Its eviction will mark a failure of the administration's "speak softly and carry a small stick" approach to a NATO ally rapidly adopting authoritarian governance.
CEU is Hungary's best university, and it is also accredited in the United States. If saving the university is truly a U.S. priority, Secretary of State Pompeo needs to call Prime Minister Orbán today, and announce the call to the public. Pompeo should mince no words with Orbán: driving CEU away is an attack on both academic freedom and the United States, and its forced departure will have consequences for the relationship between the two governments. Those consequences could include recalling Ambassador David Cornstein for consultations, making clear to Orbán that the White House visit he covets is off the table, and investigating the use of targeted Global Magnitsky sanctions on corrupt members of Orbán’s government. Pompeo also needs to reverse his poor decision to cancel U.S. assistance aimed at bolstering Hungary’s threatened independent media, and increase democracy and human rights assistance in Hungary more broadly.
For more information or to speak with Berschinski, contact Christopher Plummer at PlummerC@humanrightsfirst.org or 202-370-3310.