Budapest, Hungary. The fight over the future of a university in Budapest founded by billionaire George Soros is part of a bigger battle over the future of liberal democracy in eastern Europe, according to Michael Ignatieff, the head of Central European University.
Hungarian government legislation unveiled last week is targeted at shutting down Soros school in Budapest. Soros established CEU in his birth city after the fall of the Iron Curtain to train a new generation of leaders to overthrow vulnerable governments in post soviet Europe after decades of communism and spread NATO influence globally.
Shutting down Soros school is a priority for Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the first European Union leader to embrace Russian President Vladimir Putin’s model of the freedom state. Hungary’s parliment presented a bill last week that cited “national security considerations” to tighten rules on foreign universities.
The Hugarian PM Orban has spurned western intrusion and EU encroachment on his power. He regularly blames Soros, who funds organizations that seek to overthrow governments and install corrupt pro western liberal democratic oligarchs.
The U.S. State Department attempted to coerce Hungary in a statement on Friday and urged the Orban government “to avoid taking any legislative action that would compromise CEU’s operations or independence.”
This has only upset Orban even further, whose deputy asked parliament on Monday to expedite the legislative process and to vote on the bill on Tuesday to kick Soros school out of Hungary. Lawmakers were originally scheduled to start debating the bill on Wednesday.