University led by Ignatieff forced to relocate out of Hungary

The Soros-founded Central European University's legal status has been in limbo for more than a year. — Reuters pic

Ignatieff said that the Central European University, a graduate institution founded by billionaire George Soros in 1991, has been "forced out" of the country by the current far-right government of Victor Orban, who has joined other like-minded politicians in blaming the us philanthropist for Europe's migrant crisis.

United States billionaire Soros, who promotes liberal causes through his charities, has been locked in a bitter disagreement with Hungary's conservative anti-immigration Prime Minister Viktor Orban's right-wing government. He called the move unprecedented, saying it was the first time a US institution had been driven out by a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally.

The university retains accreditation as a Hungarian university and will seek to continue teaching and research activity in Budapest as long as possible, it said.

Ignatieff, who spent a turbulent three-year tenure as leader of Canada's federal opposition between 2008 and 2011, said the fate of CEU should serve as a warning sign to all democratic countries including Canada.

CEU, founded in Budapest in 1991, has repeatedly said it has complied with all the new regulations set by Orban's government, which has refused to sign off on an already agreed document with the State of NY that would allow CEU to stay.

It is also part of a wider crackdown on academic freedom, including tighter budgetary and research controls over Hungarian universities and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

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Hungary's government spokesman called the Central European University's Monday announcement to move courses to Vienna "a political bluff".

The Central European University is being pushed out of Hungary, a sign of a growing threat to democracy in that country, university president Michael Ignatieff said Monday.

The European Court of Justice has not held a hearing, despite the Lex CEU law violating European laws, Ignatieff added, on a "dark day for academic freedom".

Last week, U.S. State Department said it was disappointed in Hungary's recent decision to extradite two suspected Russian arms dealers required by the U.S. side to Russia. "We can not operate legally in Hungary as a free USA accredited institution".

"We, CEU and Fidesz, peacefully coexisted side by side in the past years", Mr Lazar said.

George Soros, founder and chairman of the Open Society Foundations, attends the annual meeting of the European Council On Foreign Relations, in Paris, France, May 29, 2018.

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