* PM Orban: Soros-founded college violated regulations
* CEU rejects PM's allegations, says operates lawfully
* New bill lists requirements CEU will struggle to meet
* CEU fate hinges on talks with U.S. government - Orban
By Krisztina Than
BUDAPEST, March 31 Hungarian Prime Minister
Viktor Orban said on Friday a Budapest university founded by
financier George Soros had "cheated" in awarding its diplomas
and violated Hungarian regulations.
Orban, outspoken critic of liberal civil organisations
funded by Soros, said the college's fate depended now on talks
between Hungary and the United States.
The Central European University (CEU) said it operated
lawfully and was accredited to award Hungarian and U.S. degrees.
"The CEU utterly rejects the Prime Minister of Hungary's
false allegations that CEU is 'cheating'," CEU said in a
statement. "We have been lawful partners in Hungarian higher
education for 25 years and any statement to the contrary is
In an interview on state radio, Orban said the CEU violated
rules by issuing diplomas recognised both in Hungary and the
U.S. as the university operates exclusively in Hungary and has
no campus in the United States.
"Hungary is a sovereign country, it supports knowledge in
all cases but does not tolerate cheating," Orban said. "Not even
a billionaire can stand above the law, therefore this university
must also obey the law," he added.
A year before 2018 elections, Orban has raised the stakes in
his fight against civil organisations funded by U.S. financier
and philanthropist Soros.
Earlier this week, his government submitted a bill to
parliament to regulate foreign universities, which could force
the CEU founded by Soros in 1991 out of the country.
Orban said the government would hold negotiations with the
U.S. administration about the future of CEU, but there was no
need for talks with the university itself.
CEU has said the bill proposed this week was unacceptable
and that it threatened academic freedom in Hungary.
(Reporting by Krisztina Than; Editing by Ralph Boulton)