[Aaus-list] Fwd: Hungarian Academy of Sciences - call for support

Vitaly Chernetsky vchernetsky at gmail.com
Fri Feb 8 21:57:38 EST 2019

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Victor Ostapchuk <vostap at chass.utoronto.ca>
Date: Fri, Feb 8, 2019 at 7:30 AM
Subject: Hungarian Academy of Sciences - call for support
To: <aaus-list-owner at ukrainianstudies.org>

Clarion call from Hungary in the name of academic freedom. Knowing the
current regime, this reform/"reform" will be bastardized and a truly
eminent and already much reformed centre of excellence (at least in the
field of historical studies) will be gutted.

Victor Ostapchuk
University of Toronto

Begin forwarded message:

*From: *Kármán Gábor <karmangabor at gmail.com>
*Subject: **Hungarian Academy of Sciences - call for support*
*Date: *8February 2019 at 03:23:55 EST
*To: *karman.gabor at btk.mta.hu

Dear Colleagues,

It is with genuine concern for the future of academic freedom in Hungary
that I write to you to appeal for your help. As a staff member of the
Hungarian Academy of Sciences, it has been my misfortune over the course of
the past roughly one year to watch as the current government has taken
concrete steps to assert its control over scholarly institutions in
Hungary, thereby endangering academic freedom and open intellectual
inquiry. I am appealing to you out of my firm conviction that, as scholars
and educators, we share a commitment to the fundamental principle that the
freedom of academic life from political interest is one of the pillars of a
functioning democracy and vigorous intellectual inquiry. This principle is
being seriously compromised right now in Hungary, and academic freedom is
under imminent threat.

In May 2018, the Hungarian government created a new ministry, the so-called
Ministry for Innovation and Technology. Then, in July 2018, 70 percent of
the budget of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences for 2019, was moved to this
ministry. The budget provides normative funding for the network of research
centres of the Academy, which have approximately 5,000 active staff
members. The disbursement of the budget is now bound to a newly established
system of short-term, topic-based tenders that are subject to several laws
and academic decrees. On January 31, 2019, the National Office for
Research, Development, and Innovation, which is controlled by the Ministry
for Innovation and Technology, launched a so-called “program of
excellence.” According to this new model, research centres must apply for
their entire budget by submitting tenders which are assessed according to
unclear (unspecified) evaluation procedures, allowing for arbitrary,
politically motivated decisions. For a more detailed presentation of the
situation, see this link: https://adf2019.wordpress.com/english/

The opaque evaluation system of the project-based tenders, which also
extends to public universities and state-controlled research centres,
constitutes a break from standard practice and a violation of fundamental
principles of academic freedom in the European Union. Basic research is
being placed under governmental funding and direct political control.

The Hungarian Academy Staff Forum remains firm in its conviction that the
independence of the Academy and the integrity of its research network can
only be preserved if the Presidium of the Academy refuses to participate in
the tender under the given conditions. For the future of the Hungarian
Academy of Sciences, Hungary’s oldest and most prominent scholarly and
scientific institution, it is essential that it be able to continue to
pursue its work as an independent body partly financed by state funds on a
regular, non-partisan basis. We are confident that the international
community of scholars agrees, and we appeal to you as our colleagues and as
scholars committed to genuine, open intellectual endeavour to voice your
support for us.

We therefore ask you please to send a letter of support for academic
freedom in the name of your institution to the President of the Hungarian
Academy of Sciences, Prof. László Lovász. You can use the following email

elnokseg at titkarsag.mta.hu
balla.andrea at titkarsag.mta.hu
simon.tamas at titkarsag.mta.hu

We extend our sincerest thanks in advance for your support, and we trust
that our common commitment to academic freedom will prevail.

With kind regards,

Gábor Kármán
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