Minister László Palkovics shouldn’t get an opportunity to speak at UC Berkeley

László Palkovics, Hungary’s Minister of Innovation and Technology, will speak at the University of California at Berkeley on Thursday, April 4. The title of his presentation is “Hungary as a European Hub for Autonomous Vehicle Design and Validation”

Mr. Palkovics has been invited by the Department of Mechanical Engineering and is hosted by Professor Francesco Borrelli.

Mr. Palkovics is a right-wing politician and a close ally of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Judging from the abstract, this presentation will be an infomercial for the government. Orbán expects that his politicians go out and advertise Hungary for propaganda purposes. In Budapest the government-controlled media will gleefully advertise that far-right politicians are welcomed even at UC Berkeley.

Don’t misunderstand me, Mr. Palkovics had an academic career in the past. At age 35 he was a professor at the Budapest Technological University; seven years later in 2007, he became a corresponding member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, followed by full membership. However, Mr. Palkovics stopped doing active research years ago.

Smart, aggressive and fast-talking Mr. Palkovics is a favorite of Mr. Orbán. In 2016 he became undersecretary in charge of education and two years later the minister for the newly created ministry of innovation and technology.

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán (left) and Minister of Innovation and Technology László Palkovics.

Since he became the minister of innovation and technology, Mr. Palkovics started a war against the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. His aim is the destruction of the academy’s independence and self-government. (Read our article about war against the Academy here.)

Mr. Palkovics has made no progress in improving the quality of Hungarian education. Instead he has willfully assisted in attacking the autonomy of the universities. He was instrumental in the “expulsion” of the Central European University (CEU), or as he calls it, the “Soros-university.” (Read more about CEU here.)

UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ is one of the trustees of the Central European University. On April 4, 2017 Chancellor Christ together with Leon Botstein, President of Bard College, published an editorial in the Washington Post entitled Hungary’s xenophobic attack on Central European University is threat to freedom everywhere.

Obviously Professor Borrelli may invite whomever he wants, but I think his Department is making a mistake to give a podium to a right-wing politician who is cleverly using his past academic credentials to give a political stump speech at UC Berkeley. This is a publicity stunt.

György Lázár

Please call or write Professor Borrelli and Chancellor Christ to protest Minister László Palkovics’s event at UC Berkeley.

Professor Francesco Borrelli, Phone 510-643-3871, email:
Chancellor Carol Christ, Phone (510) 642-7464, email:

Poster announcing Palkovics’s presentation

ABSTRACT Hungary, having a remarkable performance in the field of automotive industry production capacities, is becoming one of the key European hubs of developing autonomous driving systems with currently more than 10,000 development engineers working on these innovative technologies at various organizations in the country. Hungary also has a leading role in implementing and developing innovative infocommunication networks, in particular the 4G and 5G systems.
Autonomous mobility has significant potential being a key sector of the future, and thus can become one of the most important strategic and development areas for Hungary. However, testing autonomous functions in a highly realistic and reproducible way is one of the biggest difficulties of today’s automotive development and validation process. Having recognized this strategic opportunity, the Government of Hungary initiated the establishment of a globally unique testing environment with the ZalaZone proving ground as its central element.
The proving ground design is unique as it provides an opportunity to accomplish not only dynamic, autonomous and electric vehicle tests but also the application of forward-looking vehicle industry and related digital technologies while stimulating research and development. ZalaZONE offers a complex, outstanding development ecosystem for future technologies acting as a catalyst and synergistic hub for the different directional vectors addressing autonomous vehicle development.
Dr. László Palkovics was appointed as Minister of the Hungarian Ministry for Innovation and Technology in May 2018. Previously he served as Minister of State for Higher Education between 2014-2016 then as Minister of State for Education between 2016 and 2018. Since 2016 he is a Government Commissioner responsible for research and development of autonomous and electric vehicle systems. He also held senior research positions at the Technical University of Budapest and the College of Kecskemét. Earlier he pursued an international, executive level industrial career with Knorr-Bremse. Dr. Palkovics completed his master’s degree and Ph.D. in engineering, specializing on vehicle mechanical engineering at the Technical University of Budapest. Dr. Palkovics is a member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

Hosted by: Hosted by: Professor Francesco Borrelli, 5133 Etcheverry Hall, 510-643-3871,

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