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Feb 15, 2019

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's letter to the researchers of the Lendület Programme

12 February 2019, Budapest

Dear Lendület Programme researchers,

Whenever I receive an open letter I am always faced with a dilemma: it is difficult to decide who it is truly addressed to – the public or myself. Whatever the answer to this, I feel that it is appropriate for me to reply to the letter which I am honoured to receive from you.

Reading your letter I received the impression that we stand on the same foundations: we are all seeking to serve the benefit of Hungarian science and the Hungarian people. At the same time, as is the way of things, the scientific community and the Government see certain problems from different points of view, and with divergent approaches. This is why it is important that in the course of dialogue with each other we are not guided by partial information, but by our common goal: to simultaneously enhance both the reputation of Hungarian science and Hungary’s competitiveness.

There is no question that the changes taking place around us today present challenges that science can play a key role in addressing. We can also agree that the conditions for scientific work in Hungary have perceptibly improved, but the system for innovation and research and development still lacks the element that would guarantee that knowledge generates direct economic benefits. Regrettably, international innovation rankings show that in this area Hungary is one of Europe’s weaker performers, and our ability to pursue our interest in the acquisition of the significant resources for science and innovation could be sharpened. Therefore in this matter any responsible government must take action.

From all this it seems clear to us that increasing the added value of Hungarian industry is possible if our research institutes focus their resources on the areas of both basic research and innovation. The Lendület research groups are the best example in Hungary today of the smooth operation of a system in which researchers receive state funding for one clearly definable research topic or another.

Therefore, in addition to increasing funding, on 4 October 2018 the Government decided to review the operation of the full structure – including the Academy’s network of research institutes. The goal – as with the transformation of universities – is the creation of a system which operates optimally and free of administrative restraints, but also more responsibly and transparently. This means that nothing valuable will be lost, and likewise freedom of scientific research cannot be compromised.

I hope that a constructive dialogue on the new operating principles will begin as soon as possible. Minister László Palkovics is ready to continue talks on behalf of the Government.
With thanks and in great appreciation for your efforts to date, I wish you further success in your work.

Yours sincerely,

Viktor Orbán