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Referendum on controversial Chinese university in Hungary

The Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has announced a referendum on the controversial campus of the Chinese Fudan University in Budapest. Orbán told the media in Budapest on Thursday that he would respect the people's decision. However, the vote should only take place after the final plans and cost estimates have been submitted. According to the government, these should be available to parliament by the end of 2022.

The right-wing national prime minister, who will have to stand for parliamentary elections next spring, had come under noticeable domestic political pressure because of the billion-euro project. Last Saturday, thousands of people demonstrated in front of the Hungarian parliament against the building of the Budapest branch of Shanghai's elite university. With flags, banners and the shouts "Orbán, get out" they marched through the capital to Kossuth Square. Representatives of all opposition parties joined the action. Preliminary cost estimates for the major project on the banks of the Danube in Budapest amount to 500 billion forints (1.44 billion euros).

Orbán again emphasized that Hungary vehemently rejects the EU refugee quota. Illegal migrants are not allowed to be admitted during the corona pandemic; not even those who already have a residence permit, he demanded. According to Orbán, given the pandemic, this debate must be postponed for at least two years.

On the Pope's visit to Budapest in September and the debate about his meeting with the head of state, the Prime Minister emphasized that the Pope was the head of state and the head of the church. Since Pope Francis will not arrive for a bilateral meeting with the Hungarian state, but as a guest at the World Eucharistic Congress, it is at his discretion who he meets with. The Hungarian government will accept the Pope's decision. Previously, there had been excitement in Hungary over media reports that Francis did not want to meet state representatives in Budapest. These were later denied by the Hungarian Bishops' Conference.

Regarding the gesture of kneeling down as a sign against racism, about which a debate arose in the country in connection with the Irish-Hungarian football match last Tuesday, Orbán emphasized that he in no way sympathized with it. At the match, Hungarian fans whistled the kneeling Irish.

According to Orbán, guests shouldn't "provoke" the host. Kneeling down does not belong on a football field. The sense of such a gesture is anyway "culture-dependent, although we think about it very differently than the British or Irish". A Hungarian would "only kneel in three cases: before God, before his homeland and when he asks his loved one for her hand". Kneeling down was invented by the slave-owning states "to which we have never belonged".

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