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20 July 2001

University of Heidelberg Confers Honorary Doctorate on Prof. Dr. Ferenc Mádl

In appreciation of the outstanding academic oeuvre of the President of the Hungarian Republic — A prime mover in the partnership between the Law Faculties of the Eötvös Loránd University of Budapest and the University of Heidelberg

"As an expert on international private law, comparative private law and international business law, Professor Ferenc Mádl has achieved a sensitivity for the cultural commonalities and differences in the field of civil law that makes him one of the outstanding pathfinders in the quest for, and the true appreciation of, the potentialities of the newly emerging European private law and hence of European integration in the legal domain." Thus Prof. Dr. Peter-Christian Müller-Graff, Dean of the Faculty of Law of Heidelberg University, awarding an honorary doctorate to the President of the Hungarian Republic on the occasion of the Faculty's doctoral award ceremony. The award, he said, was a token of appreciation not only for an outstanding scholar but also for a colleague who has done much to encourage and support the academic exchange between Heidelberg and Budapest at the law-faculty level.

Born in Bánd in 1931, Ferenc Mádl studied law first in Pécs and later at the Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest. After obtaining his degree in 1955 and studying at the Faculté Internationale de Droit Comparé in Strasbourg, he returned to Budapest, where he continued his academic career. At the Eötvös Loránd University he first took over the Institute of Civil Law, moving from there in 1985 to the chair of International Private Law.

President of the Hungarian Republic since 2000

After sojourns in the United States and Germany as visiting professor, Ferenc Mádl was appointed arbitrator at the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (Washington) in 1989. In 1991 he was elected member of the Institut de Droit International, in 1993 member of the International Hungarian Academy of Sciences and in 1999 knight of the French Legion of Honour. In the Hungarian government formed after the first free elections in that country, Professor Mádl was initially minister without portfolio, later minister of culture and education. In 2000 he was elected President of the Hungarian Republic.

At the awarding ceremony, Prof. Dr. Erik Jayme underlined Prof. Mádl's role in establishing the requirements for the adaptation of Eastern European legal systems to the structures of the European Union. In a recent article Ferenc Mádl identifies the development of Hungarian legal culture as springing from a dialogue with Roman law on the one hand and legal studies as taught at European universities on the other, concluding from this that there should be no insuperable barriers to reintegrating the Hungarian legal system into the overall European legal context.

The award of the honorary doctorate by the Faculty of Law is also a token of gratitude and appreciation for Professor Mádl's role in encouraging and supporting the almost twenty-year partnership between the law faculties in Budapest and Heidelberg. During the ceremony, Prof. Müller-Graff said: "Hungary's leading position among the Eastern European states in the transformation of their legal systems owes much to scholars like Professor Mádl, who long before 1989 had initiated and sustained the bid to keep the intellectual life of their country as outward-looking as possible."

Please address any inquiries to:
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317

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Updated: 27.07.2001


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