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Hungary PM to Face EU Parliament to Answer to Recent Legal Changes - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The prime minister of Hungary will appear before the European Union parliament to discuss the situation in his country after the adoption of some laws that have sparked its concern.

Parliament’s plenary session in Brussels will be preceded Wednesday by the weekly meeting of the EU Commission’s college, which also will address Hungary-related issues.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government has launched a campaign called “Let’s Stop Brussels,” accusing the EU of seeking to limit the rights of member states and increase its powers.

Orban’s government said EU criticism of its policies is rooted in Hungary’s zealous opposition to migration and its refusal to participate in an EU scheme meant to relocate asylum-seekers within the bloc.

Amendments recently approved in Hungary are seen as targeting the Budapest-based Central European University founded by billionaire philanthropist George Soros.

The president of the university Michael Ignatieff appealed Tuesday for EU support to fight the new law that he said is aimed at shutting the school down.

“My institution has a gun pointed to its head,” he told lawmakers, academics and reporters at the European Parliament.

Hungary’s new higher education law was approved earlier this month and is set to enter force in October. Ignatieff said it means that his campus in Budapest might not be able to accept new students after January 1.

“This would be the first time since 1945 in Europe that a member state of the European Union sought to close down a free university,” he said, alongside representatives of the five biggest political groups in the parliament.

Orban said the CEU is “cheating” because it issues diplomas accepted both in the United States and in Hungary, where it has been operating since 1993. The university is accredited in New York state but has no campus there.

Orban added that this gives CEU an unfair advantage over other Hungarian universities, but has denied that he wants to shut it down. Ignatieff stated that around 30 US universities abroad do not have campuses at home, including in Cairo, Beirut and Central Asia.

The university dispute is part of a wider government campaign against Soros. Orban claimed Soros is undermining Hungarian interests because of his support for migrants. Tens of thousands of people have crossed into and through Hungary, and Orban is determined to stop more coming.

Top European Commission officials will meet with Soros in Brussels later this week. He will be received by EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and First Vice President Frans Timmermans. Timmermans also will address the lawmakers Wednesday just before Orban speaks.

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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