University protests 'secondary' to migration: Hungary PM

2017-04-16 06:03
Demonstrators in Budapest march to protest against potential closure of their university. (Janos Marjaj, AP)

Demonstrators in Budapest march to protest against potential closure of their university. (Janos Marjaj, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Budapest - Facing protests at home and abroad over controversial new laws on universities and non-governmental organisations, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said protests are "secondary theatres of conflict" compared to his battle against immigration, as thousands of people again took to the streets on Saturday.

The latest rally against the university law and other government policies drew a crowd estimated by local media at 10 000 in the Hungarian capital Budapest.

Series of protests

Urging a reform of the election system, anti-government activist Marton Gulyas told the crowd that under current rules, introduced in 2012 and 2013 and seen by critics as favouring Orban's ruling party Fidesz, it was impossible to oust the premier.

"As long as (parties) are measured by Fidesz election rules, they will win," he said.

A higher education bill fast-tracked through parliament on April 5 has been widely seen as directly targeting the Central European University (CEU), founded by US billionaire George Soros in 1991.

The law has triggered the largest series of protests seen in Budapest since Orban came to power in 2010.

Another law that would force non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to register as "foreign-funded organisations" was submitted to parliament earlier this month and has also prompted international condemnation and street demonstrations.

Calling international politics "a theatre of conflict" Orban said in an interview that "migration lies at the centre of that theatre of conflict.

"The Soros university, the transparency of international lobby organisations (...) are all secondary theatres of conflict," he told pro-government daily Magyar Idok.

The New York-registered Central European University (CEU), founded by Soros in 1991 and long considered by the government as a hostile bastion of liberalism, says it could be forced out of Hungary as a result of the new rules.

Election campaign

Institutions from outside the European Union will not be able to award Hungarian diplomas without an agreement between national governments.

They will also be required to have a campus and faculties in their home country - conditions not met by the CEU.

The legislation has been sharply critcised, including by the US State Department, whose spokesperson last week urged Budapest to "suspend" its implementation.

Anti-government activist Gulyas added that he would launch a movement to force changes in the electoral system by the end of the year ahead of the next parliamentary election due early-2018.

Orban called the current protests a "dress rehearsal" for the upcoming election campaign.

The Hungarian premier, 53, has built fences to keep out migrants and placed asylum-seekers in border "transit zone" camps, part of a hardline anti-immigration policy since 2015 that has won him plaudits at home but criticism abroad.


Read more on:    viktor orban  |  hungary  |  education  |  migration

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/Sport
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.