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An Open Letter Regarding “Soros Mercenaries” at CEU

Michael Ignatieff, President and Rector of CEU

Dear Friends,

Today, Hungarian media outlet Figyelo carried an article listing a few hundred people including members of the CEU community, who ‘may’ be on the list of so-called “Soros mercenaries.” The publication of such a list is contemptible. CEU issued a press statement condemning this. This is a flagrant attempt at intimidation that is dangerous for academic freedom and therefore for all of Hungarian academic life.

Any academic associated with CEU is a distinguished scholar who has earned an appointment at the university through peer-reviewed publications and a strong teaching reputation. CEU also finds it unacceptable that those who work for an organization supported by George Soros would be called ‘mercenaries.’

In CEU’s case, as we have said, the university administration answers to a 21-member Board of Trustees, not to our founder, George Soros. CEU is proud of its association with each of its founders — among them academics, public servants, and civic-minded leaders, including then-president of Hungary Arpad Goncz; Czech president Vaclav Havel; and Polish historian and finance minister Bronislaw Geremek — and their shared vision for a graduate university to provide future leaders with an education based on critical thinking, open debate, and academic inquiry.

CEU also condemns the attempt at intimidation of NGOs, which in a democracy carry out the important work of analysis, awareness-raising and advocacy of societal issues and development of solutions that serve the greater good.

Despite such attempts at intimidation, we remain committed to our educational mission and determined to stay in Budapest, on the basis of the agreement negotiated last year by the Government of Hungary and the State of New York. CEU calls on the Prime Minister to sign this agreement without further delay and in doing so to create a climate in which academic freedom and scientific research can flourish in Hungary.

Best regards,

Michael Ignatieff
President and Rector

Also for you:

Michael Ignatieff

  • Marta Burka

    If one works and believes in soros, be proud to publish your name instead of hiding. If you are hiding you know that you are doing something wrong. It was a private magazine, not the government that published the names. Ignatief is doing everything to hang unto his job in a country that is populated by people he does not care for.

    • I am the Publisher of Public Seminar, I take my responsibility for publishing this piece and am proud to do so, following the suggestion by our Executive Editor, Claire Potter. On behalf of the entire Public Seminar team, we are in Solidarity with our colleagues at CEU and in Hungary who are opposing the anti-democratic, anti-liberal developments in Hungary. I also personally applaud the philanthropy of George Soros in support of open societies. Also note, Ms. Burka, that McCarthyism in the U.S. was aided and abetted by private corporations in the form of the black list. History is repeating itself with very tragic and threatening forms.

    • DPSnyder

      Marta Burka, then one might resonably ask: what is the aim of a christian-conservative business magazine in publishing such a speculative and subjective list in Hungary *at this time*? What is the evidence offered by Figyelő that any of the people on this despicable list were paid by George Soros to topple the Hungarian government as they assert? (I’ll answer this one for you: there is none.) What, we might well ponder, would be the point of including on this list the names of people who are already *dead*? What parallels might we draw between this despicable blacklist and recent allegations by US President Trump (and other internet trolls) that the children who survived the Parkland massacre and raised up in protest were “paid actors”? If Figyelő published this list with no interaction whatsoever with the current government of Hungary (an assertion I suppose you can make since it suits you to do so— until it is proven otherwise), do they not have an obligation to the truth? And if they do, how can a dead person be a mercenary for anyone, let alone Mr. Soros? No, Ms. Burka, this is an attempt to beat the old Enemies Drum, which is a shopworn technique that is still remarkably effective for dictators around the world. Fortunately there are people like Professor Ignatieff (whose name is spelled with two f’s, BTW) and honest publications like Public Seminar who are there to toss a welcome bit of clarifying vinegar onto the oily scum of creeping fascism. Good day.

      • Marta Burka

        I think the best thing to do is ask the magazine why they would publish the list of names? I have worked for a political party for 30 years and my name and my friends name appeared a number of times in news papers. We certainly did not mind it as long as it was the right party. We did not feel intimidated and was proud of what our party achieved both in government and in the position of loyal opposition.

        One thing was certain, we never took a penny from a foreign government or group. All the money we used was raised locally. It was against our principles to receive foreign money.

        I am familiar with professor Ignatieff, he was a failed leader of the Canadian Liberal Party.

        • DPSnyder

          Mr. Ignatieff is not a failed anything. Perhaps you should inspect his CV. I think that the point, Ms. Burka, is that we are all very clear why the list was published. Viktor Orbán is a neo-Fascist dictator who is busy suppressing academic inquiry, liberal education, and free-thought. Everyone knows this. Apparently you’re okay with it. What a terribly principled person you are.

          • Marta Burka

            According to Wikipedia In the 2011 Federal election, Ignatieff lost his own seat in the Liberal Party’s worst showing in its history. Winning only 34 seats, the party placed a distant third behind the Conservatives and NDP, and thus lost its position as the Official Opposition] On May 3, 2011, Ignatieff announced that he would resign as leader of the Liberal Party, pending the selection of an interim leader,which became effective May 25, 2011.

            I worked on the campaign in 2011, we (liberals) could not believe how such poor candidate was picked by the Federal Liberal Party. Winning on 34 seats was a shock after all the money and work was invested in that campaign. We did accept the results, wished good luck to the opposition parties. The next step would have been a leadership convention but Mr. Ignatieff resigned..

            The problem with CEU is still the same, either make and agreement with a US university or stop issuing an American and Hungarian diplomas. I find that difficult to understand that CEU does issue a combined diploma without the American University backing. This is cheating all other Hungarian students graduating from local universities. I wonder if the non cooperation of CEU is a ruse used by a soros funded group to create a negative attitude towards the government of Hungary.

          • DPSnyder

            Marta, I fail to see how Mr. Ignatieff’s political fortunes in Canada have anything to do with the new and unreasonable restrictions that have been placed upon foreign-funded universities and NGOs in Hungary at this time. The Hungarian government is facing greatly increased scrutiny by human rights activists and European Union partners for its systemic attacks on human rights, refugees rights, and its non-compliance with European Union law. The Hungarian government, Ms. Burka, is generating its own negative image in the world through its own actions that are designed to heighten xenophobia among Hungarians and suppress dissent of any kind.

          • Marta Burka

            I thought that you were mainly interested in the faith of CEU and as I mentioned there is an easy solution.

            The people of Hungary decided that they do not want illegal migrants in their country. Why do people become xenophobic, there must be a reason for that. Hungary’s interactions with Muslims have never been positive. I. Ottoman Empire, 2. The 2015 invasion of illegal migrants/refugees of Hungary, the result: the total lawless behavior of the invaders, the trampling of farmers’ crops and stealing of their crops, intimidating of young woman, piles of garbage left.
            3. Occupation of a train station. 4. The attack of the border guards at the Serbian/Hungarian border. 5. Hungary was not prepared for the invasion, the EU just criticized the country instead of helping. 6. Terrorists attacks in London, Paris, Brussels, Berlin and Niece. 7. Increase in rapes committed by migrants in Western EU. 8. 38 percent of all crimes committed by refugees/illegal migrants in EU countries by a population of less than 10 percent.

            A government’s first job is to keep its citizens safe. If the government enacted legislation to bar illegal migrants on behalf of the people of Hungary, anyone working against the laws is betraying the country, If citizens work against it legitimate government on behalf of foreign interest, it is tantamount to Rakosi working with Russians, Mata Hari working on behalf of Germans.

            Hungary has finally gained freedom and sovereignty in 1989. All citizens should be loyal to their homeland instead of soros, or Brussels. It is the land of Hungary that feeds them, keep them safe.

            If Hungary would just give into Brussels demands, it might as well give up it sovereignty. Because the freedom, the Hungarian government guarantees, everyone has the right to leave the country. People whose loyalty rests with foreign entities should really join those entities instead of causing chaos in Hungary to please foreign overlords.

          • DPSnyder

            Marta Burka, you sound just like Trump. The reason people become xenophobic is that they inundated with racist hate propaganda by governments that have fascist tendencies. This technique has apparently worked well on you. The people you are hating on in your post above are middle class families, old people, children, fathers, and mothers who are fleeing death. Your attempt to dehumanize them is despicable as well as blatantly racist. I’m done with you.

          • Marta Burka

            You are absolutely wrong. I live in a country where a multi-cultural society works. We have no “no go zones” and immigrants and migrants become proud Canadians and greatly contribute to our society. North America was a continent of immigrants. North America is not utopia for the native people. When Eu settlers came to the new continent, they brought their diseases which killed many of the native people. The native people lost their land, their way of life and they were used. Some native groups became extinct. We lost their language, culture, history and art. We all became poorer because of that. To this day, some of our native people in our northern regions still do not have drinkable water. The government is making amends but too slowly.

            All the problems that Hungary and Western EU endured from Muslim populations are true. There is a certain percentage of criminality in every nation, the ones committed by illegal migrants/refugees are imported problems. You have ignored all problems and facts regarding illegal migrants/refugees and took the normal liberal lingo minimizing on opposing view. You are totally ignoring reality. It was not Mr. Trump that built the wall, it was Hungary to protect itself from being totally over run. You have also ignored what the illegal migrants did in your country. I do not wish to be derogatory but I believe you live on cloud nine where you can ignore anything that does not fit in with your ideas. I still believe that taking money for foreign governments or rich people who’s aim is to break the country’s sovereignty is betraying your country. I is time to accept the fact that the people who voted for the present government did it so because they believed that this government works for their benefit unlike NGOs.

          • DPSnyder

            I have no gripe with Canada, nor did I know you were from Canada. So is my mother. That is beside the point. The fascist mentality is characterized by obsessiveness and a disgust of the “other” on a bodily level. “Stealing” farmers crops for you; looking desperately for something to eat for me. Occupying a train station for you; being offered little more for their children than a cold welcome and a concrete floor to sleep on for me. Garbage is your concern? How about being tortured? Blown to smithereens? Drowned with your whole family in the Mediterranean? You see how it goes, don’t you Marta? Trump claims to be a germaphobe. Guess what? So was Hitler! Walls and insistence on “clean” borders, “pure” races, “pure” cultures is the typical fantasy of the fascist mentality, my northern friend. And all manner of fairy stories are made up to support the preservation of these mythical quantities and deeply-held disgusts. But we both know, do we not, that Hungarians aren’t new to appalling racial violence, right? They have demonstrated a grassroots willingness to participate in racial “cleansings” over time, including the murder of fifteen thousand of their Jewish fellow countrymen from October 1944 to May 1945. That done, they deported 80 thousand more of their fellow Hungarians to Auschwitz to be exterminated. Now that’s some radical house-cleaning, isn’t it! The radical authoritarianism of Hungarism is a despicable stain on the Hungarian nation, and it is the same strain of nativism that you are proclaiming as a good in this space. But you mention my country and the damage done to it by immigrants. Let me disabuse you of your concern: Analyses of census data from 1980 through 2010 show that among men ages 18 to 49, immigrants were one-half to one-fifth as likely to be incarcerated as those born in the United States. It’s the people born here we have to worry about, in other words, despite what Mr. Trump and his nativist allies promote. No, Marta, no cloud nine: just the facts. And the facts are that the United States of America was built on the shoulders of African slaves and immigrants and my country would come to a standstill tomorrow if it were not for immigrants.

          • Marta Burka

            Putting your nation first should be governments’s first duty in all cases. There was an agreement approved by the UN that all refugees must ask for asylum in the first safe country.these countries included Greece or Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. The majority of the Syrian refugees settled there and still living there. The refugees were required to submit their immigration applications from those countries and Canada chose refugees for resettlement from those countries only.
            Large number of migrants left their countries to improve their living standards. These people should have applied for immigration status from their own country, there was no reason for these people to be in Hungary or Serbia.

            The pictures shown on TV were mostly strong young man, relatively few families. The composition of the invaders should have been a warning to the EU countries. These men are at the peak of their sexual activities and they had no respect for EU women. Statistics from Germany showed that 30 percent of the refugees/migrants could not read or write in their own language.

            You mentioned that the illegal migrants/refugees were hungry, if they registered and followed procedure in migrant camps were people were fed and clothes they would not have been hungry. The illegal migrants/refugees were informed about welfare in different countries. Because of the generous welfare of Germany, Sweden, Belgium, Holland, etc., people decided to go there. These people jumped the queue ahead of the law abiding people stuck in refugee camps.
            I believe in a law abiding society and resent anyone that helps people circumvent the laws or help people jump queue. The NGOs in Hungary are doing just that.
            Hungary is a relatively poor country, it needs all its resources for her people. Hungary has suffered enough over her history under foreign hands, therefor anyone who works for a foreign government, Brussels, soros, against the Hungarian government should think twice whether they have the right to Hungarian citizenship.

          • Marta Burka

            The reason why the EU and NGOs actions against Hungary bother me is because I hate to see bigger countries bullying a smaller country. The EU is a bully. I also disliked traitors, we commonly call them rats.

          • DPSnyder

            I’m sure you have lots of choice names for everyone, Marta. I’ve always disliked racists, I commonly call them … racists.

          • Marta Burka

            I did not call people names, I was citing common word usage. I still believe in loyalty to one’s country. I believe that the government’s job is to provide a safe place, raise the standard of living, provide a climate for a thriving economy for all its people.

          • DPSnyder

            I am sure you will continue to write paragraphs about why refugees are horrible people, predators, rapists, thieves, and so on. You are merely revealing your own psychopathology, Marta. You spew assertions with no actual facts to back them up. You don’t respond to things I write in this space. Your hatred of Muslim people and dark-skinned people is palpable. One might wonder what your horse is in this game? Why the fury? Why the name-calling? Tens of thousands are at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea, victims of war, violent dictatorships, and economic deprivation. But you’re worried about people “jumping the queue”. How long should they stand in line, Marta, while they are waiting to be slaughtered and the bombs drops around their ears? The poison gas chokes off their last breath? How long should they wait?

          • Marta Burka

            You are exaggerating the situation in all cases in all migrant countries.. If people have thousands of dollars to spend on people smugglers just think what that money could do in Africa i.e. you can start a business. There is a civil war in Syria and for the sake of power, the two opposing factors destroyed their country. Most Syrian refugees are cared for in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon. Those countries should be honored and supported. Most people crossing the Mediterranean Sea are economic migrants. Many of these people were sold a bill of goods. These unfortunate people spend the family’s wealth on a lost cause and many of these people drown. If the EU and North America would have adhered to immigration laws, the deaths would not happened.
            I do live in a multicultural country. Here we look at the person not their color. People are usually hired because of talent. Refugees are helped to adjust to life here. Most of us participate in helping new Canadians. I am really surprised at you talking about the color of people, the color it must be important to you.

            When I talk about people committing crimes because I believe in law and order. I resent murderers, rapist, terrorists attacks, etc.. Common sense would tell you that if you are given refuge/protection, in a foreign country, the smart thing to do is to obey the laws. I feel for the German family that lost their daughter to a murderer who was given sanctuary. The crimes mentioned are unfortunately true in the EU. I have never implied that all refugees/migrants were criminals but it is impossible to tell the difference when thousands assail your borders. Accepting reality, does not make one racist but ignoring facts makes one naive. If you do not recognize problems, you will never be able to find solution; you are not doing any favors to yourself, or your country or to people seeking refuge.

            I did not blame Hungary and Hungarian people for their attitude because they did have a raw deal. That does not mean that I am against helping refugees and immigrants. The Hungarian government is not targeting intellectuals, it is the intellectuals that are targeting the government on behalf of foreign entities.

  • Bobby Barrett

    Unless one is blind, they will see the clear connection of George Soros’ evil ideology with the CEU. Worse, they will see how Soros has its tentacles not only in Europe but in Canadian and US politics, it takes only a bit of mindfulness to see Soros is not an independent and good hearted supporter of democracy and education.

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