Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Joint Letter Concerning Academic Freedom in Hungary

Published March 20, 2019

In a collective letter with other organizations, the Association of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies expresses grave concern about an increasingly restrictive climate for academic inquiry and scholarly research in Hungary. 

Recently ASEEES has also issued a statement regarding the fate of the Institute of Political History in Hungary on January 29, 2019 and a Joint Letter concerning Gender Studies in Hungary on August 30, 2018.

18 March 2019

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán
Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister
1357 Budapest, Pf. 6.

Dear Prime Minister Orbán,

Hungary has produced outstanding scientists and thinkers of the highest caliber throughout history. Names like Bartók, Erdős, Halmos, Harsanyi, Kertész, Lax, Pólya, Szemerédi, Turán, von Kármán, and von Neumann are known throughout the world. Hungary is also home to some of Europe’s most prestigious universities and the world-renowned Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

Hungarians are undoubtedly proud of these achievements, which are the envy of many. Yet such accomplishments can only thrive in a political environment that promotes the free pursuit of academic and scientific inquiry and safeguards institutions of science and learning. The very best work should be celebrated, rather than constrained.

We therefore wish to express our grave concerns about developments in recent years that have led to an increasingly restrictive climate for academic inquiry and scholarly research in Hungary. Our colleagues in Hungary have described to us attempts to close the country’s gender studies programs, to force the relocation of both the Central European University and the Institute of Political History, and to constrain the Hungarian Academy of Sciences through budgetary control. These measures taken by your government threaten the academic freedom of both individuals and institutions within the Hungarian Academy, and we ask that you recognize the danger of limiting academic freedom, freedom of expression, and institutional autonomy for Hungary’s distinguished tradition of scientific and intellectual achievement.

We know that your government shares our interest in seeing scholarship and science flourish in Hungary, and we hope you will agree that unconstrained intellectual freedom, without regard to ideological orientation, is essential for achieving this goal.

Respectfully yours,

Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies
American Anthropological Association
American Philosophical Association
American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages
International Center of Medieval Art
Middle East Studies Association

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