Deputy Spokesman for the United States Department of State Mark C. Toner gave a press briefing in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday in which he raised concerns over the Hungarian government’s passage of a controversial higher education law. Toner urged the government to suspend the implementation of the law and engage in a dialogue with Central European University, the educational institution primarily affected by the provisions of the new law. The following is a transcript of the relevant portion of the press conference as reported on the Department of State’s website.
I do want to move to Hungary quickly. Sorry. I did issue a statement – I’m aware of Deputy Assistant Secretary Yee’s remarks as well. I did issue a statement on those, I think a few weeks ago, as well. We are very concerned about this legislation that was passed by Hungary’s parliament last week that was signed into law by the president this week, I think. And we believe it threatens the continued operations of Central European University, which is a leading academic institution. It’s an important conduit for intellectual and cultural exchanges between Hungary and the United States. And frankly, it’s at the center of freethinking and research. The legislation, we believe, can also similarly threaten the operations of other American universities with degree programs in Hungary, so it goes beyond just Central European University.
I know that tens of thousands of Hungarians have been peacefully protesting in support of the CEU, and researchers and academics and others from around the world have also spoken out in its defense. And I know that – or I can say that Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Tom Shannon met last week with the president and rector of the CEU, the Central European University, Michael Ignatieff, to discuss the effect of this law on this university. So we’re urging the Government of Hungary to suspend implementation of the law. We want to see a review and discussion in order to address any concerns through dialogue with the university itself and other affected institutions going forward.