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Since the delegation of the European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) arrived in Budapest with preconceptions, “the consequences they will come to in Brussels next week are predictable”, a Fidesz MEP said after the visit wrapped up on Friday in Budapest. “The programme was clearly skewed,” Andrea Bocskor told MTI. Bocskor insisted certain panels leaned on left-liberal players, such as the discussion with FreeSzfe, the NGO of teachers and students who left the University of Theatre and Film Arts after its government-led reform. The current leadership of the university was not invited, she noted. “They tried to paint the picture that the reform was negative in all aspects, the other side had no chance of talking about its advantages for the university,” she said. The head of the mission headed off the discussion with the presumption that academic freedom was under duress in Hungary, and asked the teachers whether they were “afraid of photos being taken” of the talks, Bocskor said.
Bulgarian MEP Andrey Slabakov called the meeting “important and useful”, and noted it had been originally scheduled two years ago, before Covid-related lockdowns. Slabakov noted that education was an area in the hands of sovereign states, and the EU was not entitled to make categorical decisions. “In that case, the European Union would become the European Soviet Union…” he said. He said he stood on the side of the Europe of sovereign states, the “basic tenet of the union”. “Free speech is not the problem, more when it is used badly,” he insisted, adding that “a dearth of independent media” was problematic throughout the EU.