Friday , October 22 2021

Homepage: "Okay, we're dead, but we're still dead!"


Minister László Palkovics and László Lovász, president of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, are still in a new round of talks – both sides are silent about what was said at the meeting – although it's a big question what the stakes are. It is especially true that, according to several academic members, the decisions taken at Monday's General Assembly led the MTA to go to the wall (in addition to maintaining research networks within the Academy, the board would allow more than a third of the current weight for the government), but the minister broke all this after the meeting ATVshe said he had two options,

  • September 1
  • or until January 1, the research network will be organized and the funding model will be transformed.

So that was the last "offer", but Lovász could not isolate himself from the General Assembly resolution. We did not find out the time, we did not get answers to our Palkovics ministry questions.

By the way, Palkovich had already threatened in the interview before Monday's meeting if the MTA did not volunteer for the research network, so the government – and parliament – would resolve it by amending the law. This was assessed by the Academy as blackmail, according to our sources, the minister was also asked in the General Assembly what it was, by the way Palkovich told him

There is also a need for a change in the law for academic proposals, he just talked about it.

His statement, on the other hand, is clearer: it is about assuming his will to power the MTA.

Everybody feels that the political power does what it wants, every three hours the minister changes position

– said Emese Szilágyi, scientific assistant to JTI MTA, representative of the Workers' Academic Forum,, said the minister is trying to put pressure on. He trusts that the government is not using such a drastic tool, does not assume that conflict. He sees the presidency relieved on Monday, the mood has been released in the assembly, "we have been able to show that we are not afraid." The question is, what are they going to do with it?

everyone is relying on the one-sided step on the deck,

although he trusts, the government does not do it that way. "It would be a very unfair attraction in science." He fears that any minor changes to the law will be brought to Parliament, and can be drastically discarded at any time by an amendment by a representative. Another source of anonymity is also very skeptical. He says they are struggling with the academy exceptionally, well, but

Ok, let's die, but we're still dead!

They can stop this.

Money falls during the bargain: Research funding – salaries and overhead – will be settled by the end of May, but we will not know what to do in the coming months. Our source of anonymity knows that everything is not right now, and not all overhead has been received. Based on our previous and current discussions, it seems that without government money, the MTA can fund a minimized operation for half a year.

Emil Szilágyi expects three scenarios: According to the optimist, the government realizes that the MTA has come down to the wall, allowing them to fall, the pessimist says that the negotiations are still going without results, and the second half of the financing will only be received in December and will not be cleaned , which structure they work from January 1. The most pessimistic scenario is that Parliament outsources the research network, and the MTA can not do anything about it. From there, individual researchers will have to decide whether they want to continue working.

If the game so decides, there would be one less reason to stay in Hungary.

Our source of anonymity also delineated a fourth version: he thinks he's still on the deck, that the network will not stay together, irreplaceable institutes would be left out, or classified at universities, and the rest might even run away. The government has also created parallel institutes in several areas, which may loosen the best researchers in the area, he says.


A violent one-sided change would gain nothing from the government, at least according to a member of the Lendület group, which is often cited by leading researchers. Ádám Dénes, an academic from Lendület and ERC, says Palkovics can technically reorganize control, outsource the research network, but that would only make sense with the MTA.

The stated aim of the government is to conduct surveys in a meaningful pool to spend money effectively. At the same time, in the crisis of confidence that has developed, all kinds of violent movements, not a negotiated solution, result in the migration of the best researchers, and the best research stops. Thus, there will be no more effective collaboration between staff and basic research, and the government's goal will not be realized.

He says there is a grave danger that first-time youngsters who are able to interpret and translate into "innovative" results at home and abroad can go first.

A source of high-level anonymity can see this threat.

It will be a big problem if the government continues to harden and gain prestige at the Academy because the whole institutional system can stop for a long time.

He says that if the administration changes, if the funding changes, thousands of contracts and projects will become vague, making it simply impossible to keep the normal day-to-day operation alive, not to mention that hundreds of scientists can go to other institutes foreigners. . Dénes also drew attention to the fact that the new structure requires the renegotiation of thousands of contracts, but it is not certain that the EU or another contracting party becomes a partner.

If a proposal or research project stops for months, it can cause a major competitive disadvantage or irreparable damage.

They are in the dark

According to Dénes, the attitude is also wrong that there is no need for basic research in Hungary. Science is developing at such a speed that without excellent exploratory research, the effectiveness of applied research is also compromised and its costs are much higher. He also drew attention to the importance of an appropriate researcher career model, as excellent researchers work with highly qualified university students, doctoral students, postdocs, who may also leave the environment uncertain, as they fear that gymnastics will not either. have the prospect of going to university. .

It is a huge responsibility of government to create uncertainty in this environment and how it erodes the values ​​of science. The whole society is being hurt.

The message is also bad: according to Szilágyi, the one-sided change would also show that the system is becoming increasingly authoritarian.

Paradoxically, the MTA has since had a political weight since it was treated by politics, but it also means that even innocuous and unaffected autonomy can not be accepted.

Szilágyi and Dénes also say they have not heard any significant explanation from Palkovice about why they want to outsource the research network because they were not told that this would happen, would help the innovation goals and how taxpayers' money could be tracked down better. According to Dénes, if there was a significant impact study or written material on the purpose of the transformation and where the ministry would go, the MTA could have a professional response. "A good example of this is that, on several principles, the strategic working group established by the ITM and the MTA agreed, which was also accepted by the Assembly, showing the intention of the SAH to reach an agreement." He believes that more effective governance of the institutional system can be resolved within the current framework with appropriate modifications, while the government can allocate additional resources to areas that need to be supported.

1950s – there would be need for it

It is not clear to Dénes why the government wants to be present in more than 50% in the body that decides on the distribution of funds and research institutes if they continue to decide on the money based on professional and scientific considerations. There is no such example abroad, and the importance of freedom of research has been emphasized by the prime minister, he adds. Why did we receive an answer from an academic:

because of political influence

in vain, the minister says otherwise. In their reading, the lack of transparency of government means, in fact, that they do not see how the fate of a research is deciding.

Politics should not say what the relevant topic is. It was like this in the fifties, and then I was told what was science and what was not. Although I think it would be a demand right now.

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