Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán plans to seize control of the research network of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
The government plan threatens academic freedom and autonomous scientific research in Hungary, a “de facto nationalisation of the academy’s property” which would put scientific research under close government scrutiny.
János Kertész, a researcher at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences wrote an open letter to the President of the EPP Group in the European Parliament Manfred Weber calling for help. Weber is also the EPP candidate for the higher job in the European Commission. What is more, Weber seems to be an ally of the Hungarian Prime Minister.
Kertész letter was signed by more than a thousand researchers and students.
They ask Weber to persuade the Hungarian ruling party Fidesz to withdraw its plans against academic freedom in the country.
As reported by The Associated Press (AP), the government argues it wants to improve innovation in scientific research and have publicly funded research projects that create “direct economic profit.”
In a separate report, the Reuters news agency noted that the government proposal would move all the research units into a new public institution with a 13-member governing board comprising six government and six academy delegates. Orbán would appoint the chairman based on a joint proposal by the board.
“If the bill were to be adopted in its current form, the freedom of scientific research would be undermined by the MTA and fundamental values could be lost to Hungary. The MTA asks everyone who is concerned about the freedom of science and sympathizes with the Hungarian Academy of Sciences to support our case,” told Mérce website the President of the Academy László Lovász.
On Wednesday June 12, the Hungarian Parliament will start discussing the new draft law.