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Viennese Honour for George Soros the Donor of the Central European University

Published: November 19, 2019; 18:15 · (Vindobona)

The investor, philanthropist and sponsor of the CEU Central European University, George Soros, has been awarded the Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold for Services to the Province of Vienna.

Ludwig welcomed the establishment of the university donated by George Soros (left) and emphasized Soros' commitment to an open society and democracy. / Picture: © Magistrat der Stadt Wien / C.Jobst/PID

Vienna's Governor and Mayor Michael Ludwig has awarded the Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold for Services to the Province of Vienna to investor and philanthropist George Soros.

The occasion is the establishment of the Central European University (CEU) in Vienna.

The mayor welcomed the establishment of the university donated by George Soros and emphasized Soros' commitment to an open society and democracy.

At the same time, Ludwig expressed his concern about anti-democratic developments in neighbouring countries, which have led to the relocation of the university.

Numerous honoured guests took part in the ceremony in the Vienna City Hall, e.g. former Hungarian Foreign Minister Kinga Göncz, former Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, CEU Rector Michael Ignatieff and Prof. Paul Lendvai.

The laudatory speech was delivered by former Federal President Heinz Fischer.

In his welcoming address, Mayor Ludwig expressed his joy that the Central European University (CEU), founded by George Soros, is now located in Vienna. One of the links between Soros and Vienna was the ideas of Sir Karl Popper, who inspired Soros throughout his life. Ludwig expressed his respect for the fact that Soros uses its financial resources to support cosmopolitan, democratic attitudes, including the CEU Foundation. At the same time Ludwig expressed his concern about anti-democratic developments in neighbouring countries and regretted that the settlement of the CEU in Vienna had been preceded by political and anti-Semitic hostilities against Soros. Ludwig made it clear that Vienna would always defend the values of an open and democratic society.

In his laudation, former Federal President Heinz Fischer stressed that the CEU was one of the top 100 universities worldwide. This quality is reflected not only in academic teaching, but also in the communication of democratic values and an open mind.

In his acceptance speech, George Soros stressed that he was extremely grateful for the establishment of the CEU in Vienna and that he was particularly pleased about the high award.

He said that in his adopted country of London he had been influenced by the ideas of Sir Karl Poppers, who was also his scientific tutor. He is delighted that students from around 100 countries will be studying at the CEU in Vienna in the future.

About George Soros and the CEU

George Soros, investor and philanthropist, was born in Budapest in 1930. He survived the Holocaust and went to England at the age of 17 to study. One of his teachers was Sir Karl Popper, who was born in Vienna and whose ideas had a strong influence on Soros. His idea of an open society is still the driving force behind Soros' socio-political commitment. He uses most of his wealth, which he earned as an investor, for this commitment. George Soros is the founder and most important supporter of the internationally renowned Central European University (CEU) based in New York and now also in Vienna. The CEU is shaped by the basic idea of cosmopolitanism and democracy. The establishment of this globally renowned university strengthens both Vienna as a scientific and business location.