CEU Responds to the Foreign Minister's Remarks about CEU

Please read below President and Rector Michael Ignatieff's response to Foreign Minister Szijjarto Peter's remarks made about CEU earlier this week.

Dear Mr. Foreign Minister:

In remarks to the press earlier this week, you gave the clearest indication yet that on January 1, 2019 your government will force CEU out of Hungary.

You assert that CEU has not established educational activity in the State of New York. This will obviously be the basis on which the government justifies its decision.

If this is the government’s decision, it will be ignoring the terms of your own legislation. The Hungarian higher education law, passed by your Parliament, clearly states that the authorities competent to decide whether a foreign institution is conducting educational activities in its home state are the educational authorities of that state. The New York State Department of Education has repeatedly informed the government of Hungary that CEU is conducting educational activities in New York. You cannot be unaware of this correspondence. It has been a matter of public record for months.

The question of whether CEU has complied with the law should be determined by the terms of the law itself. If you choose to ignore the terms of your own legislation, the responsibility for that lies with you.

You also must be aware that your Ministerial colleague, Mr. Palkovics as well as Mr. Kristof Altusz, from your own Ministry, visited Bard College in April 2018. In the presence of Trustees and Chairman of the CEU Board, they gave clear indications that CEU had established educational activity on the Bard College campus.

You will also be aware that M. Altusz engaged in productive negotiations with the chief legal counsel of the Governor of New York through the summer of 2017. These discussions resulted in the text of a draft agreement which CEU accepted as the basis of its future operations in Hungary. This document remains the basis for a potential settlement.

For eighteen months, CEU has sought a solution that would allow us to remain in Hungary but your remarks indicate that your government has already made up its mind. As minister you and your government will bear responsibility for the harm that your decisions will do to Hungary’s higher education system and to the country’s international reputation.


Michael Ignatieff
Rector and President