AHA Maintains Support for the Separation of Hungarian Politics and Academic Inquiry

On February 11, the AHA sent a letter to the leadership of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences to reaffirm its support for the autonomy of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. The AHA cautioned against reforms that would subject academy funding to approval from ministerial authorities. The separation of the Academy's research institutes and publications from politics is a crucial cornerstone of the institution's international integrity and the credibility of its historical scholarship.

Download the Letter as a PDF.


February 11, 2019
Lászlo Lovász,
President Hungarian Academy of Sciences

Dear Dr. Lovász,  

The American Historical Association registers deep concern over ongoing developments in the academic sphere in Hungary, particularly with respect to the internationally renowned Hungarian Academy of Sciences and its Institute of History. We affirm our support for the principle of the independence of academic inquiry from political pressures of any sort.  

The American Historical Association includes approximately 12,000 members around the world and promotes historical thinking, the work of historians, and respect for the integrity of historical scholarship.  

The structural reforms launched by the Hungarian Ministry for Innovation and Technology on January 31, 2019, endanger the very existence of the academy's research institutes and the publications they support. The requirement that researchers and research institutes within the academy must apply for funding from ministerial authorities threatens to create a situation in which proposals and publications may become subject to political approval.  These reforms, therefore, imperil the international standing and distinction of the academy.  

The freedom of academic inquiry from political influence is an essential pillar of democracy and the integrity of intellectual life in any nation. Historians, like our colleagues in other disciplines, require this freedom of inquiry to contribute rigorously to scholarly and civic life. The American Historical Association expresses our support for the autonomy of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the preservation of its research institutes, its traditions of distinguished science and scholarship, and its standing in the international community of academic research. 

Sincerely,

John R. McNeill
President, American Historical Association

CC
Pal Fodor, Research Centre for the Humanities, Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Andrea Balla, Secretariat, Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Tamas Simon, Office of Communication, Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán c/o Gergely Gulyás, Minister of the Prime Minister
László Palkovics, Minister for Innovation and Technology


On February 19, the AHA recieved the following response from Pal Fodor, director general of the Research Center of the Humanities at Hungarian Academy of Science:

On the behalf of the Research Centre for the Humanities, which includes the Institute of History, I would like to thank you for your letter that you have sent to Dr. László Lovász, president of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.  

We are deeply honoured and very grateful for the support of the American Historical Association. Whatever the future holds, we will never forget your kind words in these challenging times.