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Ehrendoktorwürde der ELTE an Dr. Erhard Busek

2015-11-13 E Busek doctor honoris ELTE (1)13. November 2015

Unserem langjährigen Stiftungsratsmitglied, Dr. Erhard Busek, Vizekanzler a. D., Bundesminister für Wissenschaft und Unterricht a. D., wurde am 13. November von der Eötvös-Loránd-Universität der Titel doctor honoris causa zuerkannt. Die Verleihung der Ehrendoktorwürde fand im Rahmen einer Festveranstaltung und in Anwesenheit des Senats der Eötvös-Loránd-Universität (ELTE) in der Magna Aula, im Gebäude der Juristischen Fakultät statt. Die Universität würdigte Herrn Dr. Busek für sein Engagement, sein aktives Mitwirken an der politischen, wirtschaftlichen und geistigen Vereinigung Europas seit den 1980er Jahren, für seine tatkräftige Unterstützung bei der Neugestaltung und Neuerrichtung der Staaten der Region nach dem Ende der sowjetischen Besatzung insbesondere in Hinblick auf ihre staatliche Verwaltung, ihr politisches System und ihre kulturelle bzw. Bildungsinstitutionen. Das Interview mit Herrn Dr. Erhard Busek anlässlich der Verleihung der Ehrendoktorwürde der ELTE an ihn können Sie hier lesen HU, DE.

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The Curriculum Vitae of Dr. Erhard Busek

Address on the Conferring of the Degree of Doctor Honoris Causa by the Faculty of Humanities of Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest

Dr. Erhard Busek represents the generation of Europeans who in the 1980s at a mature age suddenly found itself placed vis-à-vis the prospective liberation of Eastern Europe. As to Europe’s political and economic-intellectual unification, between 1986 and 1990, he was personally involved in the preparatory proceedings as well as in its implementation during the period between 1993 and 2007. Dr. Erhard Busek, his outstanding personality as a politician and a writer, is known throughout Europe–– both in the west and in the east––and in the United States as a prominent and widely acknowledged instigator of this process. And he was also an equally renowned personality in Hungary during the years of the system change between 1986 and 1990. He subsequently became one of those intellectual and politician personalities of the region, who, after the collapse of the Soviet occupation, have dedicated themselves to the re-alignment of the state as well as of the political and cultural life of the region and are seeking to make it happen as a project of their own life. In fact, it is for these personalities that there exists an extended network of intellectual-political relationships across Europe, stretching from Poland to the Balkans; this is also the reason why he repeatedly chooses this region as the central theme of his esteemed works, also in terms of their political scientific merit; and it is for this same reason that numerous honourable degrees have been conferred on him––the title of doctor honoris causa by the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, the Comenius University in Bratislava, the Universities of Chernivtsi, Brasov and Liberec––and several awards have been bestowed upon him in and by the states of this region.

Born in the Austrian capital in 1941, it was also here where he graduated from the Faculty of Law of the University of Vienna in 1964. Subsequently, he became the Secretary of the Parliament of the Austrian National Council, then Secretary General of the Austrian Federation of Trade and Commerce (Österreichische Wirtschaftsbund –ÖWB) between 1972 and 1976. Then, for over a decade, he acted as elected Chairman of the AustrianChristian-Conservative People’s Party (Österreichische Volkspartei – ÖVP) in Vienna between 1976 and 1989. Meanwhile, between 1978 and 1987, he held the office of the deputy-mayor and vice-governor of the Austrian capital. By the 1980s he had become one of the best known politician and writer personalities in Austria who has been renowned for his active participation in intellectual discourses and for whom politics is not restricted to administration and administrative tasks but rather considers it an intellectual challenge. No matter what position he is actually in, he is always committed to writing down––usually in book format––in an intelligible form the main tasks and challenges of the specific policy field by focusing on the issues which he and his generation are concerned about. (While Secretary of the Austrian Parliament, he was the co-author of the book Die unvollendete Republik – Österreich ohne Phase 1 [The Unfinished Republic – Austria Lacking Phase 1] published in 1968, later as the secretary general of the Austrian Economic Association, he writes in 1975 his book Auf dem Weg zur qualitativen Markwirtschaft – Versuch einer Neuorientierung [On the Road to Qualitative Market Economy – An Attempt to Reorientation] and in 1981 Die kranken Riesen – Krise des Zentralismus [The Sick Giants – Centralism in Crisis]. In the latter he takes a firm stand against the centralist state, one of the most discussed issues in European politics of earlier years, and speaks up for the federalist state and the model on modern democracy relying on autonomies. In his office as deputy-mayor of Vienna, he adverted to the formation of new intellectual and political movements in the societies of Central and Eastern European countries under Soviet occupation. By relying on the traditional attractiveness of Vienna’s position in the Central and Eastern European region, he organized joint programmes with young intellectuals and politicians from Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Yugoslavia. Furthermore, in these countries two of his works published in 1986 aroused remarkable attention: Projekt Mitteleuropa [Project Central Europe] and Aufbruch nach Mitteleuropa [Heading for Central Europe]. By this time, in the political and intellectual parlours, it was due to his involvement that the Central Europe Programme had become a programme underlying the joint political and cultural actions of the East (i. e. countries under Soviet occupation) and the West (i. e. primarily the region of Austria and Italy). (As to the Alps-Adria project, he was extensively involved in the comprehensive formation of the programme.) Between 1989 and 1994 he was appointed Minister of Science and Research and between 1994 and 1995 Minister of Education. Between 1991 and 1995 he served as vice chancellor and was at the same time Chairman of the Austrian People’s Party, the larger governing party of the coalition. Being a decisive figure in Austrian governmental circles, he played an active role in the Central and Eastern European states in 1989 and 1990 during the years of political transition. The oppositional movements in Budapest saw in him an invaluable partner, and he became a primary ally for Prime Minister Miklós Németh’s political transition government. The institutional grounding of presently existing vivid Austrian and Hungarian relations in science and culture go back to this period (Aktion Österreich–Ungarn, founding of the Austrian secondary school in Budapest, launching of a project on the establishment of a university with German as its official language, implementation of the programme of German language teachers after the repeal of compulsory Russian language courses from the curriculum, organization of joint events in connection with the Vienna–Budapest world exhibition, etc.) (His two books, Wissenschaft und Freiheit – Ideen zu Universität und Universalität [Science and Freedom – Ideas on University and Universality] published in 1989 and Brücken in die Zukunft – Weltausstellung Wien-Budapest 1995 [Bridges to the Future – Vienna–Budapest World Exhibition 1995], the first of which he was the co-author and the second of which he edited, go back to this period.)

Following the expiration of his governmental and political party positions and functions, he chose to return to the presidential office of the Vienna-based Institute for the Danube Region (Institut für den Donauraum – IDM) which functions as the organiser of intellectual und cultural political programmes in Central Europe. He launched and operated the programme of the Southeast European Cooperative Initiative, also advocated by the US, which became the organiser of cross-border initiatives in southeast Europe and has its headquarter in Vienna (actions related to the Danube region and the Balkans). He never ceased to support actions and initiatives undertaken in the field of cultural policy in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and above all in Hungary. Between 2000 and 2012 he was the President of the European Forum Alpbach (EFA), a Forum which functions as an interdisciplinary platform for the organization of Italian, Austrian and south-eastern European cultural policy programmes. In 2000 he was appointed the Austrian Special Representative of the Austrian Government on EU Enlargement and as Special Coordinator of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe from 2002 until 2008. He actively promoted the accession of the states of the former Soviet occupational zone to the European Union (the EU’s eastern enlargement of 2004, with Romania and Bulgaria becoming member states in 2007). He regularly participated in the intellectual and political debates organized in the region, held talks, wrote and published articles highlighting the historical and economic foundations of the region’s western integration. He was a committed advocate of the programme which perceived the political and economic integration of Europe as a means for preserving the autonomy of small nations and not as an institution that shall deprive the small states of their national identity. Between 2004 and 2011 he was regularly invited to attend various university and political debate platforms of the region; he, in fact, counts in university circles as one of the ‘contact persons’ who can bring together German studies scholars, historians, political scientists, as well as politicians. On the other hand, he was regarded as a committed advocate of the idea of EU enlargement in the United States and, during the years of the Yugoslav war, he made himself heard for the consolidation of south-eastern Europe. (This is the period when his lectures and collection of essays were published: Mitteleuropa – Eine Spurensicherung [Central Europe – Securing Evidence], 1997, Österreich und der Balkan – Vom Umgang mit dem Pulverfass Europas [Austria and the Balkans – How to Deal with the Powder Keg], 1999, Offenes Tor nach Osten [Open Door to the East], 2003, Zu wenig, zu spät – Europa braucht ein besseres Krisenmanagement [Not enough by Far and Much too Late – Europe in Need of More Effective Ways of Crisis Management], 2007).

For an abridged version of his oeuvres, his book Eine Seele für Europa – Aufgaben für einen Kontinent [A Soul for Europe – Assignments of a Continent] published in 2008 and his autobiographical work Lebensbilder [Tableaux Vivants] from 2014 written on the occasion of his 70th birthday and portraying most vividly––through the perspective of a Viennese European––the cultural and scientific movements in Central Europe in the period between 1965 and 2011, shall provide us an important insight into the various aspects his life work.