- Title: EU Article 7 procedure against Hungary 'a showtrial', chief of cabinet says
- Date: 9th November 2018
- Summary: BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (NOVEMBER 9, 2018) (REUTERS) TRAM PASSING PARLIAMENT GUARDS BY PARLIAMENT AND PRIME MINISTER'S OFFICE EXTERIOR PRIME MINISTER'S CABINET CHIEF GERGELY GULYAS ENTERING NEWS CONFERENCE JOURNALISTS SITTING FOR NEWS CONFERENCE (SOUNDBITE) (Hungarian) PRIME MINISTER'S CABINET CHIEF, GERGELY GULYAS, SAYING: "Although we feel that in many elements this procedure is a showtrial, including unfounded accusations and several factual errors, we still take the procedure as if debate and reality mattered and we will give all member states a wide ranging briefing (at the hearing)." JOURNALIST TAKING NOTES (SOUNDBITE) (Hungarian) PRIME MINISTER'S CABINET CHIEF, GERGELY GULYAS, SAYING: "Everything that happens in this case contributes to an even deeper division of Europe between the new and old members. We know well that at the end there will be no sanctions. It is a political procedure dressed in a legal coat which forces the Hungarian government and all those who feel threatened by a similar procedure to defend themselves politically, and it deepens those diffferences that exist between the two sides of the continent." GULYAS SPEAKING (SOUNDBITE) (Hungarian) PRIME MINISTER'S CABINET CHIEF, GERGELY GULYAS, SAYING: "The CEU (which offers U.S.-accredited courses) obtained a property in Vienna therefore we do not wish to influence and comment on this decision of the board of the university. It is the parliament that should decide on the ratification (of the agreement) but if the university decides to take its U.S. courses to Vienna the Hungarian government will accept that. The Central European University (offering courses with Hungarian accreditation) has Hungarian accreditation whose operations are not endangered in any form." GULYAS SPEAKING (SOUNDBITE) (Hungarian) PRIME MINISTER'S CABINET CHIEF, GERGELY GULYAS, SAYING: "Partly the decision is in the hands of the parliament, and partly it is not in our hands, and everyone can freely decide that among the legal framework, that is the same as many European countries' rules, and the CEU (offering U.S.-accredited courses) can decide whether it wants to operate here or only the Central European University (offering Hungarian-accredited courses) wants to stay here. We will accept the decision of the university." BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (RECENT - OCTOBER 25, 2018) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF CEU UNIVERSITY STUDENTS ENTERING UNIVERSITY / CEU SIGN BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (RECENT - OCTOBER 26, 2018) (REUTERS) (NIGHT SHOTS) DEMONSTRATION IN SUPPORT OF CEU / BANNER READING (Hungarian): "CEU WILL CONTINUE" VARIOUS OF DEMONSTRATORS CHEERING PROTESTER HOLDING BANNER READING (English): "ACADEMIC FREEDOM"
- Embargoed: 23rd November 2018 12:23
- Keywords: Viktor Orban George Soros Hungarian Prime Minister Central European University Article 7 procedure European Parliament European Union
- Location: BUDAPEST, HUNGARY
- City: BUDAPEST, HUNGARY
- Country: Hungary
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA00195SAXIX
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: The chief of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's cabinet on Friday (November 9) accused the European Union of deepening divisions within the bloc by launching the formal Article 7 punitive procedure against the country.
The European Parliament approved a motion to launch the process in September, theoretically opening the way for sanctions such as a suspension of Hungary's voting rights in the bloc.
However in practice this would be likely be blocked by Poland's nationalist government, an Orban ally locked in its own dispute with the EU over undercutting the rule of law.
Cabinet chief Gergely Gulyas called the procedure "a show trial", adding that the move deepened divisions between older and newer member states, and said all were aware that there would be no sanctions against Hungary.
Gulyas also commented on the row centred on the Budapest-based Central European University, the legal status of which has been in limbo for more than a year due to changes in the law seen as hostile to its founder, financier George Soros.
The government did not wish to comment on or influence a potential move by the university to Vienna, Gulyas said at a news conference. The university said last month it would switch its main campus to Vienna if it did not receive guarantees of academic freedom by Dec. 1.
The law, passed in April last year, requires foreign universities to maintain a campus in their home countries and secure a bilateral agreement between Hungary and their governments.
CEU, which is accredited in New York state as well as Hungary, said both requirements were prohibitive as costs would be too steep and Washington had no jurisdiction over it.
Gulyas said it was up to the university whether it would move its main academic institution, which offers courses accredited in the U.S., out of the country while maintaining a smaller campus with Hungarian accreditation.
Though the law applies to all international universities, it attracted protests in support of CEU calling for the bill to be withdrawn.
Critics say the law was clearly targeted at CEU-founder and billionaire George Soros, whom Orban accuses of planning to bring millions of migrants into Europe.
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