The George Soros founded Central European University announced on Monday that it has been kicked out of Hungary as part of the campaign by popular populist Viktor Orban to remove the influence of the Budapest born international financier from the country.
This follows a previous announcement in May that the Soros controlled Open Society Foundation which founded the CEU in 1991 would be moving their headquarters out of the country and relocating to Berlin under pressure from the Orban Government.
Central European University has been controversial since its foundation. Originally the main campus was meant to be based in Prague but was forced to relocate to Budapest after pressure from the heroic anti Communist leader and first democratically elected Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus. After relocating to Hungary and having been gifted $880 Million dollars U.S by the Open Society Foundation the university became one of the wealthiest in Europe.
The university became the first in the region to offer courses on Environmental studies, Gender studies and other subjects from within the field of Critical theory. The founding premise of the institution was to create a new educated central and eastern European elite who would sell their people on the need for “Open Societies” including the free movement of people and capital.
The universities’ ethos stresses the importance of institutions such as the U.N and the E.U and the superiority of internationalism to nationalism with most of the teaching staff coming from non-Hungarian backgrounds.
Around the world internationalists and academics have held hissy fits over the move, denouncing Prime Minister Orban as a monster. CEU President Michael Ignatieff called the move a “dark day for Europe and a dark day for Hungary”.
Most of the international media class agreed, with condemnation of the action coming from the Associated Press, the Guardian, Reuters, the Independent, the L.A Times, Salon, the Telegraph, the Times of London, the Washington post, the New York Times and many others.
Only time will tell if Orban’s attempts to fight back on this front of his country’s culture war will be effective or not.
But many of his supporters and admirers both at home and abroad will be glad that at least he’s fighting.