Hungary students intimidate government

Demonstrators made up of university students, teachers, doctors and artists shout anti-government slogans and carry placards in central Budapest on December 17, 2012.

Hungarian students have threatened to stage mass protests unless the government meets their demands of higher education reforms.

The government has until February 11 to settle a month-long standoff or student networks will launch protests across the country, Richard Barabas of the HH (Student’s Network) organization said on Tuesday.

“Our anger is totally justified,” Barabas said on Hungary’s independent broadcasting station, Klub Radio.

“We are trying to carry on a public, constructive and sensible dialogue with the government, but it seems we are banging our heads against the wall,” Barabas added.

The students have had enough of the government’s “empty promises,” he said, over reforms of giving additional free university places, benefits in state scholarships at universities and freedom for students with grants to work outside Hungary after graduation.

Barabas pointed out that the government talks “one-on-one with professors and the different student groups,” an act which allows the government to resolve the issues without considering both sides of the argument.

“This is unacceptable and has caused us to issue our ultimatum” of education reforms or protests he said.

Thousands of students in December 2012 held weeks of protest over the government’s cuts and reforms to higher education.

The European Union (EU) has pressured Hungarian Premier Viktor Orban to keep Hungary’s budget deficit below 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013, and thus Orban has introduced measures to avoid cuts in EU aid.