13. 02. 2019

It is with deep concern that the Czech Academy of Sciences (CAS) is following the recent developments regarding the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (HAS), Hungary’s most significant research institution. The CAS strongly disagrees with the Hungarian government’s actions leading to the reduction of the HAS’s scientific freedom and expresses apprehension and alarm at the budget cuts which could threaten the very existence of the HAS.

Given that the academies of sciences, including HAS, are the most important components of the research, development and innovation systems in Central and Eastern Europe, the Hungarian government’s gambling with academic freedom, continuity and quality of Hungarian science and research puts not only the Hungarian science and research community, but the country’s very economy, in jeopardy.

Based on our own experience from 2009, when the Czech government proposed an unprecedented budget cut for the CAS, we believe that active participation of the academic community and public support can pressure the government into reconsideration of its intentions. At the same time, it is obvious that it is not entirely possible to compare the situation in the Czech Republic in 2009 to the current steps of the Hungarian government. Nevertheless, in the developed world, investment in the advancement in science and education proves to be most effective for the entire society in the medium and long-term perspective. It can also fundamentally strengthen the country’s potential not only economically but also culturally and socially. Moreover, threatening the autonomy, financial stability and scientific excellence in science and research is in direct contradiction to the current trends in the globalized world where competitiveness is directly linked to the development of the knowledge economy, higher education, science and research, and to promoting their synergies. Therefore, the CAS fully supports the efforts of the HAS to reverse recent decisions of the Hungarian government and shares its demands for academic freedom and restoration of the HAS’s autonomous status. That is including its authority to manage its financial means independently and responsibly, as financial stability and independence are essential prerequisites for the effective fulfilment of the HAS’s public mission.

The CAS strongly recommends that the Hungarian government reviews its position and actions concerning the HAS, taking into account its partners in Europe and the world, and their experiences. Following the extreme cut to CAS’s budget in 2009 and inspired by Germany’s “Pakt für Forschung und Innovation”, the CAS has been making efforts at explaining the necessity of strong government support for research institutions in the Czech Republic as well as at meetings with the representatives of its V4 partners. Finally in 2017, recognising the essential need for continuous and strong support of the R&D&I system by the government to secure the system’s stability, quality and growth, the Vice Prime Minister of the Czech government together with the President of the CAS, Minister for Education, Youth and Sports and the President of the Czech Rectors Conference, signed a Statement on stabilisation of the R&D&I system in the Czech Republic. Its aim is to ensure the government’s contribution to the research institutions’ budgets at 70%, increasing its support by 5% each year until this goal is met. We are convinced that only similar commitment by government can stabilize the R&D&I system and its prosperity.

We believe that it is our duty to try and find solutions that will place science and education at the centre of each country’s interest for the benefit of society in Hungary, as well as all other Central and Eastern European countries. Hereby, we would like to emphasise the importance of systemic cooperation in science as well as policy related topics within networks of research institutions at not only V4 level, but within the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities (ALLEA) and other international organisations. Only with continuous dialogue and cooperation among governments and research institutions, domestic as well as foreign, can we secure scientific freedom and prosperity not only for ourselves but for our future generations.

 

Prepared by: Department of International Cooperation of the Head Office of the CAS
Photo: By Aisano [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons