ALLEA’s reaction to the Parliament’s bill concerning the Hungarian Academy of Sciences

On 2 July 2019 the Hungarian Parliament has passed a bill which will strip the Hungarian Academy of Sciences of its research institutes and thereby will transfer the academy’s research capacities to the Eötvös Loránd Research Network (ELKH) under the supervision of the Hungarian Ministry of Innovation and Technology. The decision was made despite stark resistance from within the Hungarian science system as well as from European science organisations, including ALLEA, and is widely considered to be another decision by the Hungarian government to infringe on the freedom of science and research.

ALLEA President Antonio Loprieno said:

“We are worried by the Hungarian government’s attack on academic freedom, which threatens the autonomy of science and thus puts innovation at risk. The Hungarian Academy of Sciences has engaged in good faith and constructively with the government, which instead has chosen to disregard months of dialogue and efforts. As the federation of European academies, ALLEA will back our member academy and all Hungarian scientists and work with them and other international partners to defend science from populist pressures.”

The bill, which still awaits ratification by the country’s President, stipulates that not only the research institutes are handed over to ELKH, but also that the academy makes available their premises and equipment without compensation.

The Hungarian Academy of Sciences has made it clear that this bill is in opposition to basic European funding principles and poses a serious danger to the academic freedom of the institution as well as to the researchers working within this new network.

ALLEA and the academies within the federation deeply oppose such infringements and reject the claim of the Hungarian government that the ELKH will produce more innovative science.

 

Read previous ALLEA statements on this matter here:

ALLEA, EUA and Science Europe joint statement on academic freedom and institutional autonomy (April 2019)

ALLEA reinforces its calls to protect the institutional autonomy and academic freedom of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (February 2019)

ALLEA open letter in support of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (June 2018)

 

ALLEA, EUA and Science Europe publish joint statement on academic freedom and institutional autonomy

 

ALLEA, EUA and Science Europe call to protect academic freedom and safeguard institutional autonomy by providing and honouring sound regulatory frameworks

ALLEA, the European University Association (EUA) and Science Europe issued a joint statement today on the urgent need to back commitments to academic freedom and university autonomy with solid actions. The three partners, representing a vast section of Europe’s research and higher education system, maintain that academic freedom and institutional autonomy are of fundamental importance and value to society.

“Our knowledge-based societies are dependent on scientific progress, but the fragility of the core principles of academic life, freedom and autonomy, are often disregarded. Only with them can science best serve society”, said Antonio Loprieno, President of ALLEA. “Recent developments in Europe with growing political pressure in certain countries have made us painfully aware of the need to protect these values at all costs. It is time for scientists, but also society at large, to stand up against unjustified infringements and to call for stronger safeguards.”

The statement calls on governments and public authorities to protect academic freedom and safeguard institutional autonomy by providing sound regulatory frameworks and refraining from interference in the internal affairs of higher education and research institutions. It also urges them to guarantee scholars and students the rights that constitute academic freedom, such as freedom of expression, opinion and thought.

Furthermore, the three organisations call on universities, funding agencies, academies and other research organisations to foster a culture in which free expression and the open exchange of opinion are valued and the academic freedom of researchers, teachers and students is safeguarded.

“Recent developments in Europe with growing political pressure in certain countries have made us painfully aware of the need to protect these values at all costs. It is time for scientists, but also society at large, to stand up against unjustified infringements and to call for stronger safeguards.”

Antonio Loprieno, ALLEA President

Universities and academies have recently been the target of increased political pressures. The European Parliament triggered a disciplinary procedure to determine if democratic values, including academic freedom, have been undermined in Hungary. In 2018, the government banned the teaching of gender studies and forced the Central Europe University to relocate most of its activities outside the country.

Following a lengthy dispute over budget matters with the Hungarian government, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, recently had to begrudgingly agree to a reform of its research institutes, which places the institutes under a new governing body made up of both academicians and scientists, but chaired by an appointee of the prime minister. In Turkey, the academic sector has come under increased pressure after the 2016 coup attempt, with thousands of public employees being dismissed from their jobs, including academics from ALLEA membership and higher education administrators.

ALLEA has intervened with a range of actions, including mediation, statements and open letters, in support of academic institutions under threat over recent years. The present statement, and the partnership with EUA and Science Europe, is a call to action and reflects the organisations’ shared concern that academic freedom and institutional autonomy are no longer self-evident in Europe and around the world, with grave consequences for scholars, science and society.

Download Statement

ALLEA reinforces its calls to protect the institutional autonomy and academic freedom of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences

In response to the ongoing and severely threatening infringements by the Hungarian government on the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, ALLEA has published today a statement calling to protect the institutional autonomy and academic freedom of the academy.

Read the full statement

ALLEA publishes statement on the inappropriate political infringement on academic curricula in Hungary

ALLEA has published a statement today on the inappropriate political infringement on academic curricula in Hungary. “ALLEA is alarmed by the Hungarian government’s recent, recurring and unfounded intervention in the curricula of private and public universities,  severely compromising academic freedom and autonomy that are key features of modern science and higher education, and regrettably following a pattern witnessed before”, the statement reads.

Read the full statement

 

 

 

ALLEA Publishes Open Letter in support of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences

In response to two proposed laws introduced for voting by the Hungarian Parliament and which threaten the scientific autonomy and financial independence of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, the ALLEA President Antonio Loprieno has sent an open letter to the responsible Hungarian Minister of Innovation and Technology, Mr László Palkovics. You may download and read the letter below.

Download the open letter

 

 

 

Statement from the Czech Academy of Sciences, the Slovak Academy of Sciences and the Polish Academy of Sciences

ALLEA Member Academies, the Czech Academy of Sciences, the Slovak Academy of Sciences and the Polish Academy of Sciences, have joined the initiative and published a statement in support of the Hungarian Academies of Sciences.

Read the statement

ALLEA stands with the Central European University

ALLEA sends letter of support for Central European University in light of proposed legislative changes in Hungary.

“We consider the proposed legislation a fundamental threat to basic and internationally valid principles for conducting science and research”, states ALLEA President Professor Günter Stock in a letter addressed to the Hungarian Minister for Human Capacities, Mr Zoltán Balog. With the letter, ALLEA joins a multitude of scientific institutions from Hungary and all over the world in voicing grave concerns regarding the proposed change in legislation of Act CCIV of 2011 on National Higher Education of the Hungarian Government which would deprive the Central European University (CEU) of itsability to operate according to fundamental scientific principles such as academic freedom, scientific excellence and self-governance. CEU is a Budapest-based prestigious US-Hungarian private university with international reputation which just recently celebrated its 25th anniversary.

“We consider the proposed legislation a fundamental threat to basic and internationally valid principles for conducting science and research”

ALLEA President, Günter Stock

 

The Hungarian National Assembly deliberates on the legislative proposal on Tuesday 4 April 2017. In case of its passing it would eventually lead to a forced discontinuation of CEU’s activities in its present form in Hungary. An official CEU statement calls the proposed legislation “discriminatory and unacceptable”. The amendments would prevent CEU to operate as a “free and independent international graduate university”. The CEU President urged the Hungarian government “to enter into negotiationswith us to find a satisfactory way forward that allows CEU to continue in Budapest and to maintain the academic freedoms essential to its operation”.

CEU has started a petition directed to the Hungarian National Assembly and Government which in the past few days was signed by almost 40.000 individuals.  The petition calls on the Hungarian National Assembly to “drop the proposed legislation and to enter into negotiations with the leadership of CEU that will ultimately allow this prestigious university to remain a proud contributor to scientific discourse in Hungary”.

Click here to read ALLEA’s letter.

Click here to join the petition.

To read further and updated information and to learn how to support CEU via social media support please click here.

ALLEA co-signs letter by European Science Organisations

ALLEA co-signs open letter by European science organisations calling on European Institutions and national governments in Europe to protect the freedom and autonomy of science.

The letter is in response to some of the first actions of the newly inaugurated US President Donald J. Trump, which show a blatant disregard for the universal values and principles of science and research. Upon release the open letter was co-signed by ALLEA and its partner Academia Europaea alongside 37 other European science organisations

Please see the letter here

Science Academy Istanbul’s Statement on Academics Dismissed from Public Service

On 3 October 2016 Bilim Akademisi (The Science Academy, Turkey) Executive Board issued a statement on academics dismissed from public service following the attempted coup d’état in Turkey last July.

To access the statement please visit the academy’s website here

ALLEA rejects the attempted coup d’état and calls for the Republic of Turkey to respect academic freedom and autonomy

ALLEA, the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities, rejects all non-constitutional and violent attempts to threaten the democracies in the Council of Europe region, which is the host region to the ALLEA member academies, and indeed all over the world. Consequently, ALLEA strongly condemns the attempted coup d’état by factions of the Turkish military on 15 July 2016 against the democratically elected institutions of the Republic of Turkey.

In the meantime ALLEA has closely followed the subsequent and on-going developments and is alarmed by the repressive and excessive nature of recent measures against several public sectors in Turkey, including the academic and research community, carried out by the Turkish government and compliant civil servants in response to the coup.

In particular, we learnt with grave concern and alarm that apparently all 1577 university deans were suspended, thousands of licenses of teachers cancelled, all academics banned from leaving Turkey, and Turkish academics were being called back from abroad.

We strongly condemn these and any other punitive or preventive actions taken without distinction, depriving academics and researchers from their fundamental rights, particularly the right to freedom of expression, freedom of movement, freedom of assembly as well as the right to exercise their profession without politically or ideologically motivated constraints.

We urge the Turkish Government to halt these measures and to return to, respect and safeguard the principles of academic freedom and autonomy for both individuals and institutions in the science and higher education sectors in Turkey.

We stand in solidarity with our Turkish colleagues in these difficult times and we particularly support the academicians and staff in our member academies located in Ankara and Istanbul.

We call upon the European Institutions, national Governments as well as fellow scientists and scholars across Europe and beyond to express their support for the academic and research community in Turkey.

Click here for pdf version of the statement

Turkish academics: ALLEA supports declaration of International Human Rights Network of Academies

ALLEA fully supports the following declaration of the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies, as published on 19 January 2016, on the recent developments involving Turkish academics:

‘The International Human Rights  Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies (H.R. Network) supports and defends the rights of fellow academics, anywhere in the world, to peacefully express their lawful opinions and concerns. We, the members of the H.R. Network’s Executive Committee, are alarmed by the increasingly repressive and inflammatory reaction by Turkish government leaders, many university officials, and other intolerant individuals toward hundreds of our Turkish colleagues, solely because they publicly expressed humanitarian concerns about the grave crisis in south eastern Turkey. Surely, citizens of a democratic country such as Turkey, and its academics in particular, have a civic duty to remind their government, when deemed necessary, of its obligations to respect Turkey’s constitution, adhere to humanitarian standards for all of its citizens, and give priority to peaceful solutions in crisis situations.

We condemn any threats, false accusations, and incitement to violence against our colleagues by the government of Turkey, which is obligated, under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to allow its citizens the “freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” In addition, we urge the government of Turkey to protect the rights of its citizens, to desist from threatening academics who are performing their civic duties by participating in governance, and to call its operatives to order – thereby discouraging hostile action against our colleagues.’

The original declaration of the International Human Rights Networks of Academies and Scholarly Societies can be accessed here.

To download this press release please click here.