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So if you are a believer in the proposition that there is no such thing as coincidence or happenstance, then you will very likely see the case of the CEU and the EUSP as linked in some obscure way. I attended a conference in Munich last February that expressly discussed the two cases in parallel. Of course, the similarity was entirely contrived. The CEU-Hungary has never been in any danger of closing. Proper scrutiny will show that the dispute between the CEU and Fidesz only resembles the fate of the EUSP superficially. The nexus is different. There is no connection between the two institutions, indeed it is seriously misleading to see them jointly if one wants to understand the power realities of the CEU and Hungary.

It was in the spring of 2017, that the CEU went for the political option, in the belief presumably that the Hungarian government would cave in under international pressure. CEU graduates were mobilised to support their alma mater and put pressure on the Hungarian government.

This was a political error for another reason. Hungarian parliamentary elections were due (and held) in the spring of 2018 and unless the CEU depoliticised itself, downplayed the Soros connection and generally kept a low profile, it would get caught in the slipstream of the elections, as the Soros-funded NGOs did. Fidesz’s election campaign placed Soros at its centre, as the symbolic leader of the left-wing, globalist, anti-Fidesz camp. Something similar is happening currently, with the European Parliament elections to be held in May 2019. Soros will figure prominently as a negative target. Globalism can be seen as an ideology that places the security and free movement of capital above all else — all states should be fearful of the bond market — and welcomes the complexity that makes it ever harder to engage politically with money flows. Soros fits well into this. As Hungary is looking to build up its economic strength, the clash with Soros and globalism is quite logical.

To come back to the CEU, Ignatieff went to Brussels in the expectation that the European Union would solve his problems. He was rapturously received — the Fidesz government is thoroughly unpopular in EU circles, and this is reciprocated by Budapest — but Ignatieff was mistaken in his belief that the EU could do much to help. Education is a member state competence, so the best that the EU can do, and is doing, is to launch infringement procedures of a technical nature, e.g. not respecting EU competition law and service provision, with the aim of getting Hungary to amend its law on higher education. The case will eventually be decided by the European Court of Justice.

There is another thought to be added here. Ignatieff was and is a liberal, he led the liberals in Canada (to electoral defeat), so quite predictably he was feted by the liberal group in the European Parliament. Ever since 2014 at the latest, a noteworthy element of the liberals’ platform has been the demand to have Fidesz expelled from the European People’s Party (EPP). One might think it somewhat odd for one European party family to tell another who its members should be, but if so, that didn’t trouble the liberals at all.
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