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Troubled times

As Hungary faces censure for failing to observe EU laws, its former education minister József Pálinkás tells Antoaneta Roussi that researchers there are worried about the future.

For many people, Hungary has become a symbol of the problems facing the European project. This month, concerns over issues such as academic freedom and judicial independence in Hungary led the European Parliament to trigger a process of potential sanctions against the country’s government.

ForJózsef Pálinkás, an atomic physicist who served as education minister in Viktor Orbán’s government between 2001 and 2002, the moment was painful. Pálinkás helped to build Orbán’s ruling Fidesz party from the small, liberal youth party that launched in 1988 into the populist party that first gained power in 1998. He told Research Europe that for him, Fidesz represented prosperity, ingenuity and freedom. He says he feels “sorry” about the circumstances that led to the Parliament’s proceedings against Hungary—but that he had expected the result.

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