Statement on Central European University

November 11, 2018

As members and supporters of the bipartisan Transatlantic Democracy Working Group, we see the refusal of the Hungarian government to enable the prestigious Central European University (CEU) to continue operating its campus in Budapest as a serious blow to academic freedom in Hungary. Protecting institutions of higher education is an essential part of democracy. A crackdown on academic freedom is one of a series of dangerous developments in Hungary under the leadership of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. The campaign against the CEU is a highly symbolic move against a vital institution founded to promote the transatlantic values of democracy, openness, and equality of opportunity.

Founded in 1991, CEU is a graduate-level university based in Budapest, in partnership with Bard College, and with academic accreditation in Hungary and the State of New York. Because it is a joint American-Hungarian institution, it has support across the political spectrum in the United States and at all levels of our government. Michael Ignatieff, President and Rector of the CEU, thanked the U.S. Ambassador to Hungary David Cornstein as well as the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Congress, the Office of the Governor of New York, and the New York State Education Department for their efforts to secure an agreement certifying CEU for continued operation in Hungary. Ambassador Cornstein took a principled stand in using the #IStandWithCEU hashtag on the embassy website. The Hungarian government, however, has refused to sign this agreement for almost one full year.

As the Trump administration has sought “principled engagement” with Hungary, we see the unwillingness of the Hungarian government to reciprocate in a principled manner to a priority request from the U.S. government as an insult that damages the future of U.S.-Hungarian relations.

When an illiberal leader takes adversarial action against an institution with U.S. roots, the U.S. must acknowledge this as a breach, say so publicly, and hold the government to account through clear, responsive action. As a member of NATO, we must also ensure that Hungary is accountable in upholding democratic freedoms; NATO’s strength depends on it.

CEU must receive full recertification by December 1, 2018 or it will be forced to relocate to Austria. But, the Hungarian government’s brazen procrastination has already done irreparable damage to this prestigious university in Hungary and may have delayed matters until it is too late for a solution.

There should be consequences for the bilateral relationship because of the failure to act in good faith with the United States to protect our joint interest in the CEU, including by downgrading the level of meetings with Hungarian officials. Ambassador Cornstein and his U.S. government colleagues have stood up for a principled relationship with Hungary in standing with CEU. We believe that it is necessary for the American interest to stand tough against Hungary’s illiberal challenge and continue to publicly hold the government of Hungary accountable, including from high levels in DC, for its attack on academic freedom, democratic institutions, and principles.

Signatories: TDWG Members and Supporters

Signatories have joined in their individual capacities. Institutional affiliation is listed for identification purposes only.

1. Ambassador Norm Eisen, Steering Committee Co-Chair, Transatlantic Democracy Working Group; Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution; former U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic

2. Jeff Gedmin, Steering Committee Co-Chair, Transatlantic Democracy Working Group; Editor-in-Chief, The American Interest; former President and CEO, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

3. Susan Corke, Director of Secretariat, Transatlantic Democracy Working Group; Senior Resident Fellow, The German Marshall Fund of the United States

4. Mike Abramowitz, President, Freedom House; former director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Levine Institute for Holocaust Education. 

5. Paige Alexander, Executive Director, European Cooperative for Rural Development; former Assistant Administrator for Europe and Eurasia, U.S. Agency for International Development

6. Anders Åslund, Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council

7. Ambassador Adrian A. Basora , Co-Chair, Eurasia Program and Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Research Institute; former U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic

8. Ambassador Dan Baer, former U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe; Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

9. Marc Behrendt, Director of Europe and Eurasia Programs, Freedom House

10. Rob Berschinski, Senior Vice President for Policy, Human Rights First; former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

11. Nicole Bibbins Sedaca, Professor and Chair, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service

12. Thomas Carothers, Senior Vice President for Studies, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

13. Mike Carpenter, Senior Director, Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement; former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, Eurasia, and the Balkans

14. Sarah Cleveland, Professor of Human and Constitutional Rights and Faculty, Columbia University Law School; Member of the European Commission for Democracy Through Law (Venice Commission)

15. Nicholas Danforth, Senior Policy Analyst, Bipartisan Policy Center

16. Larry Diamond, Senior Fellow, Stanford Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies; Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution

17. Maxim Eristavi, Nonresident Research Fellow in the Eurasia Center, Atlantic Council

18. Gregory Feifer, Executive Director, Institute of Current World Affairs

19. Ambassador Lee Feinstein, former U.S. Ambassador to Poland (signed 12/12/ 2018)

20. Jamie Fly, Senior Fellow and Director of the Future of Geopolitics and Asia programs, The German Marshall Fund

21. Ira Forman, Senior Advisor for Combatting Antisemitism, Human Rights First; Senior Fellow, Center for Jewish Civilization, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service; former U.S. State Department Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism

22. Jacob Freedman, Senior Director, Albright Stonebridge Group; former Chief Speechwriter, Secretaries of Defense Chuck Hagel and Leon Panetta; M.A. Central European University

23. Dr. Francis Fukuyama, Director for Center on Democracy, Development, and Rule of Law; Senior Fellow, Stanford Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies

24. Charles Gati, Research Professor of European and Eurasian Studies, Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies; former Senior Advisor with the Policy Planning Staff, U.S. Department of State

25. Carl Gershman, President of the National Endowment for Democracy (signed 11/13/2018)

26. James Goldgeier, Visiting Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations; Professor, School of International Service, American University

27. Stephen Grand, Visiting Professor at the Free University in Amsterdam 

28. Daniel S. Hamilton, Professor and Executive Director, Center for Transatlantic Relations, Johns Hopkins SAIS; President, Transatlantic Leadership Network; former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs

29. Melinda Haring, Editor, Atlantic Council; Fellow, Foreign Policy Research Institute

30. Melissa Hooper, Director for Human Rights and Civil Society, Human Rights First

31. Alex T. Johnson, Senior Policy Advisor for Europe and Eurasia, Open Society Foundations

32. Robert Kagan, Stephen & Barbara Friedman Senior Fellow, Project on International Order and Strategy, Foreign Policy, The Brookings Institution

33. Jonathan Katz, Senior Fellow, German Marshall Fund of the United States; former Deputy Assistant Administrator Europe and Eurasia, U.S. Agency for International Development

34. Ambassador Ian Kelly, former U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe; former U.S. Ambassador to Georgia

35. Andrew Kenealy, Research Analyst, Governance Studies, The Brookings Institution

 

36. Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Senior Fellow and Director of the Transatlantic Security Program, Center for a New American Security

37. James Kirchick, Visiting Fellow, Center on the United States and Europe, Project on International Order and Strategy, The Brookings Institution

38. Harold Koh, Sterling Professor of International Law, Yale Law School; former Legal Adviser, U.S. Department of State; former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor 


39. Richard Kraemer, Fellow, Eurasia Program, Foreign Policy Research Institute

40. David J. Kramer, former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

41. Bernard-Henri Levy, Philosopher, Filmmaker, and Activist (signed 11/13/2018)

42. John A. Lindburg, Independent Consultant; former General Counsel, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

43. Summer Lopez, Senior Director of Free Expression Programs, PEN America

44. Chris Maroshegyi, Director, Albright Stonebridge Group

45. Damir Marusic, Executive Editor, The American Interest

46. Elisa Massimino, Senior Fellow, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University


47. Thomas O. Melia, Washington Director, PEN America; former Assistant Administrator for Europe and Eurasia, U.S. Agency for International Development; former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

48. Blaise Misztal, Director of National Security, Bipartisan Policy Center

49. Ambassador Derek Mitchell, President, National Democratic Institute; former U.S. Ambassador to Myanmar

50. Yascha Mounk, Lecturer, Harvard University

51. Joshua Muravchik, Distinguished Fellow, World Affairs Institute 


52. Fron Nahzi, Senior Director of Global Development, McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University

53. Suzanne Nossel, CEO, PEN America; former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations

54. James O’Brien, Vice Chair, Albright Stonebridge Group

55. Sofya Orlosky, Eurasia Program Manager, Freedom House

56. Mike Posner, Professor, New York University Stern School of Business; former Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

57. Jeff Prescott, Senior Fellow, Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement; former Special Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor to the Vice President

58. Wanda Rapaczynski, former trustee of Central European University (signed 11/20/2018)

59. Ted Reinert, Senior Research Assistant, Center on the United States and Europe, The Brookings Institution

60. Dalibor Rohac, Research Fellow, American Enterprise Institute

61. Anthony Robinson, Director of Training and Public Engagement, Truman National Security Project

62. Jonas Rolett, Special Advisor to the Founder and Chair, Open Society Foundations

63. Laura Rosenberger, Director, Alliance for Securing Democracy; Senior Fellow, German Marshall Fund of the United States

64. Gary J. Schmitt, Resident Scholar and Director, American Enterprise Institute; former Executive Director of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board

65. Amanda Sloat, Senior Fellow, Center on the United States and Europe, The Brookings Institution; Fellow, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Southern Europe and Eastern Mediterranean Affairs

66. Dr. Maria Snegovaya, Post-Doc Associate, Center for International and Security Studies, University of Maryland

67. Jake Sullivan, Lecturer, Yale Law School; former National Security Advisor to Vice President Biden; former Director of Policy Planning, U.S. State Department

68. Daniel Vajdich, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council; President, Yorktown Solutions; former Senior National Security Adviser, Ted Cruz Campaign

69. Veronika Velch, Director of Advocacy, Ridgely Walsh

70. Ambassador Alexander Vershbow, Distinguished Fellow, Atlantic Council; former U.S. Ambassador to NATO, Russia, and South Korea; former NATO Deputy Secretary General

71. Dr. Stephen Walt, Robert and Renée Belfer Professor of International Affairs, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

72. Andrew Weiss, Vice President for Studies, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; former Director, National Security Council