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Photo: zsoolt (Flickr); Licence: CC BY-NC 2.0
Central European University main entrance

A magical thing happened last week in Budapest – Europe became one notch more erratic and even less predictable. Viktor Orbán, the democratically elected leader of Hungary, in a befittingly authoritarian fashion, passed new legislation on Tuesday, April 4, reflecting its maker’s fondness of political control of science. The legal amendment was fast-tracked, with only a few hours given to lawmakers to seal the fate of academic freedom in the country. It was also tailor-made to fit the long-standing desire of the Central European University, one of Eastern Europe’s top-level universities, located in Budapest, to collect its things and beat it. Leaving behind such a gash in liberal values, that given time it can swallow Hungary, the European Union and, eventually, Uranus.

Published in Sixth Sense
Tuesday, 12 August 2014 00:00

A European Odyssey

European Peace Walk
Photo courtesy of Simon de Grève
European Peace Walkers en route to Italy


To mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, the European Peace Walk has set up a transnational walkway along the borders of Central Europe. Since 28 July groups of walkers have been embarking daily on a 550km journey from Vienna in Austria to Trieste in Italy. E&M's Frances Jackson caught up with Peace Walk participant Simon de Grève, a 22 year old engineering graduate from Belgium, whose group set out on 29 July.

E&M: How far have you got so far?

SdG:  We arrived in Croatia today and have walked about 250km over the course of the first 11 days, so we're almost half way and there is a really good atmosphere in our group.

E&M: Why did you decide to take part in the European Peace Walk? Did your decision have anything to do with the fact that you're from Belgium, a country that was so very badly ravaged by the First World War?

SdG: I finished my degree in June and for my last 'long holidays' I wanted to do something different or special before embarking on my professional career. A Spanish Erasmus student who I met during my final internship abroad told me about a 23-day walk that she was planning to attempt in August with some friends. I found the idea of the walk a really interesting personal challenge and eventually I decided to try the adventure myself. My internship in a foreign country also opened my eyes to people from other countries and I was looking for an opportunity to find other people who might share my interests and style of life. My decision to take part in this walk thus has nothing to do with the war, only with the expectation of meeting new people and a desire to test my limits and complete a challenge.

Published in Sixth Sense
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