Katalin Novák, the first female President of Hungary was inaugurated on May 14 in Budapest.
The speech of H.E. Katalin Novák, President of the Republic of Hungary during her inauguration ceremony:
My Compatriots, dear Guests,
I have arrived here today with gratitude in my heart.
I am grateful to have here with me the young and old of our family, and that I can address you with them around me. I am also grateful that we are together in such numbers! I salute all the Hungarians in the world, also those who are following us with watchful affection from afar.
This is the first time I am addressing you as the President of the Hungarians. I thank you for your trust expressed by my election. Primarily, I view your trust as a source of responsibility. My responsibility towards those supporting me is to not disappoint them. But I am also responsible for those who are as yet distrustful and disapproving.
As President, I have the responsibility to showcase what my homeland, Hungary and my compatriots, the Hungarians mean to me, and how I see the life we share and the place we occupy in the world. My actions will follow from this personal Hungarian world view of mine.
Here we stand together, in the heart of Europe, in our country’s capital, in the middle of the Carpathian Basin, at the Main Square of the Nation. But we also stand united in the intent and the will – „after the decades of the twentieth century, which led to a state of moral decay” – to build a better, more beautiful, more peaceful, more prosperous and safer life for the Hungarians in the 21st century.
Although the sun is shining today, and we Hungarians have many reasons to rejoice, to feel proud and to celebrate, a dark cloud is casting its shadow over our lives. This shadow is the war.
This is not the virtual reality of videogames, no CGI, no photoshop. Neither is it a war movie. This is the bloody reality that our grandparents personally experienced during the Second World War; a reality we only know from the stories they had told us. Until now, for most of us, war has not been a real threat or a foreboding reality, but an avoidable risk reminding us to be vigilant. This has been the case even though the Yugoslav War had gone on in our neighbourhood for ten years. Now, in Ukraine, the blood of wounded soldiers and of civilians is real, the tears of families torn apart, the tears of those who mourn their lives are real, the cries of children, the roar of tanks and the barrage of gunfire is real. The shock is real, the fear is real.
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
The invasion of Ukraine – as we recovered from the initial shock – demanded immediate, yet well thought-through, viable responses from all, including us.
On February 25th, as the first refugees arrived in Hungary, we rushed to their help without reflection, taking a course of action we instinctively considered self-evident. Bereg, Szabolcs and Szatmár, the local mayors, the churches and the aid organisations, the government and our country’s citizens all took action simultaneously. Since then, seven hundred thousand refugees have entered Hungary’s safe haven, and we together, my dear Compatriots, have raised donations worth several hundred million forints. We attend to the wounded, send food to those who have stayed behind, offer the opportunity of education to children arriving in our country, provide families with a roof over their head, food and work, and give encouragement and spiritual support to the discouraged. Hungary aced the compassion test. I thank you all for it!
In addition to selfless assistance, we also need to know what is our response to this war, what is in the best interest of our nation seen from the perspective of our past, present and the future we hope for.
In ten points, this is what this war looks like from Hungary:
1. We condemn Putin’s aggression, the armed invasion of a sovereign state.
2. We say eternally no to every effort aiming at the restoration of the Soviet Union!
3. We Hungarians want peace, here in Hungary as well as in our neighbouring countries. We want to win peace, not the war!
4. This war is not our war, but this war is also fought against us peace -loving Hungarians. We long for security, mutual respect and prosperity. We demand that war crimes be investigated and punished!
5. We are not neutral. We stand with the innocent victims and with the truth. As members of the European Union and NATO we meet our commitments, and when we have the right to say no to a decision and the interests of Hungary so require, we do say no.
6. Under no circumstances are we willing to give up our hard-won sovereignty! We are continuously developing our defence forces.
7. We support Ukraine’s accession to the community of European countries.
8. We are prepared to make sacrifices for peace, and do not prevent our allies from making sacrifices. Yet we will not consent to decisions demanding a bigger sacrifice from the Hungarian people than the pain such decisions inflict upon the Russian aggressor.
9. We are willing to play a mediating role between the warring parties to facilitate the continuation of peace talks.
10. We insisted on respect for the rights of Hungarians in Ukraine until now, we are insisting on these rights now, and will continue to insist on these rights even after the war.
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
Sometimes we stand our ground alone. But we also have allies and friends who share our world view. We know on whom we can count and when, and others also know that Hungarians keep their word and are brave companions. We may be inconvenient friends at times, but when the need is real, we won’t run away.
Upon my election on 10 March, I said my first trip would be to my home, to my family. I also said I would like to visit our Polish friends as soon as possible. I kept my first promise; from the National Assembly, I hurried to my family. I will not remain indebted concerning the second part, either. On Tuesday, 17 May, I am travelling to Warsaw to meet the President of the Polish people. Mr. President, dear Andrzej, I thank you for the opportunity to talk as befits friends!
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
We Hungarians have every reason to be proud of the wealth of our unique language, the turbulent history of our nation, the achievements of the Hungarian mind and the treasures of our culture. We believe that the revolution of 1848, the Freedom fight of 1956 and the stripping of the Iron Curtain in 1989-90 all evidence our unquenchable passion for freedom, and that if we must, we are prepared to fight for it. The whole world could see that Hungarians are a brave and strong nation. Hungary is a sovereign country, will stand up for its interests, is not afraid of conflicts, and can defend itself and its position forged through painful experiences.
We have not changed. We are still the same as the Hungarians who fought for their freedom in 1848, in 1956 and 33 years ago.
Why is it then, that in the regions of the world where our bravery was once saluted we are less and less seen that way?
Our parents and grandparents – having endured through the 20th century that seems unendurable in retrospect – handed down to us the qualities of self-esteem, tolerance, survival skills and a fighting spirit. We thank them and are grateful to them! But our ancestors have not taught us that having a great product is not enough to ensure the product’s success in the market. The idiom so popular in Hungary „ Good wine needs no bush” is very telling indeed! I disagree with it! I say, even good wine needs a bush!
I consider it to be a privilege to be such a bush for Hungary, a very good wine indeed, one that even I like!
One of my missions will be to make sure that we Hungarians – beyond the romanticism of being misunderstood – also experience as frequently as possible the agreeability of being understood and appreciated.
Our nation strategy was expressed by Jenő Dsida in Transylvania as follows:
„we are preparing for a gentle war,
always for ourselves, never against others,
we steam salt and weave canvases,
belittled by others, we are growing up”.
As a result of the work of a decade, Hungarians live with their heads held high again. We dare to look our real size and view the world from our specific Hungarian perspective, through the Hungarian lens, mindful of our Hungarian interests. Hungarian confidence, healthy self-esteem, national pride are qualities that exist again. How we have been missing them!
Budapest is the most beautiful capital of the world, no building overcomes the magnificence of our Parliament building, paprika is hottest in Szeged, Hungarian women are the most beautiful in the world, plums from Szatmár give the most succulent brandy, and nothing can match the Hungarian mind. It is good if we think so! It is just as well if we realise that only we think so. Let us uphold our national pride, let us cherish it! But let us also make sure that national pride does not become national arrogance, and that neither is it replaced by globalist cowardice.
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
Sometimes one has to go to the wall. This is what the Commission in Brussels – constantly expanding its own mandate – , the never elected pundits, the hostile parts of international media, the dominance of big country interests – has taught us. We have learnt it is risky for a country to pursue its national interests. We have also learnt we often need to go to the wall, or even break through it at times. By now we are strong enough to even do that.
I have found it is also a good idea to check if there is a door on the wall. If the door is closed, to turn the doorknob. If the door still does not open, to see if there is a key in the lock. If there is no key there, it is worthwhile to look for someone we might know who may be willing to open the door for us. And if we still have not gotten through that wall, get the battering rams! It is good to know that by now, we Hungarians have so much strength! And how good it is if we know how much of it we should and should not use, and when to use it.
I trust that I can be of some benefit to Hungary in opening doors and finding keys!
In the elections of 3 April, Hungary made a clear and indisputable decision to entrust the political community that has governed for twelve years with the management of our common affairs for the next four years as well. The new Parliament has been formed. I congratulate the Speaker of the House and all elected Members, and call on them to honour the trust placed in them, to respect the existing constitutional framework of democratic law-making, and to strive to make decisions that benefit our nation. The unity of the nation does not begin in the parliamentary chamber, but if we all accept that the power belongs to the people, we must also accept the consequences of their democratic decisions. This could be our common ground. And if we can also agree that a firm rejection of another person's point of view does not mean a denial of respect for the person, then our children can learn from those in public life. Because culture is not just Kodaly’s choral music, the dances of the Gyimes Region, Munkácsy’s Yawning servant, Csoóri’s poems, the opera aria „Hazám, hazám” sung by Simándy, Magda Szabó’s Abigel, the churches designed by Makovecz or our rich folklore heritage. Culture is also the way we look and behave, how we respect our traditions and address each other. I feel obliged to be an example to follow in this.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The National Assembly will elect a prime minister on Monday, soon I can appoint the members of the new government. As a citizen of Hungary I expect those controlling the executive to preserve the security of the Hungarian people! I hope that with the right responses to pandemics, security threats and economic challenges, there will be enough energy left to continue what we have started to build.
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, you may know that over the past decade, I have participated in public life and the work of the government as a member of a national, civic, Christian Democratic community. I am proud of this, and will remain so. My commitment to my nation and home country does not change, and naturally, I also bear responsibility for those Hungarians whose values are different from mine. My task is to find the depth and the height where Hungarians belong together in a matter of course manner. I will find and highlight those aspects of our life that go beyond the usual antagonisms of party politics. I feel obliged to understand the arguments shaping the various positions, and to help even those accept the majority’s decision whose opinions proved to be shared by a minority.
The cradle of sovereignty is the family. A nation’s unity starts in the family, too. In every extended family, some family members are essentially different from others. Some live in a village, others in a small town, some in Pest, others in Buda, in the Great Plain or in Transdanubia, some live in the Highlands, others in the Southland. Professionals and skilled workers, rightists and leftists, the indifferent. Families include babies, young people, middle-aged and elderly members, some are believers, others are of no faith, there are the Catholics, Calvinists, Lutherans and Jewish, tolerant and intolerant, those with many children and the childless, the hard-working and the lazy, the wealthy and the poor, the family-centred and those preferring singlehood. This is how the Hungarian nation is composed, too. This is exactly how different we are from each other, and how differently we think about the world around us. But we share a history, we know each other, we belong together. We need to be able to experience, understand and even enrich what we have in common, what binds us together and what is our own. And in time, we may also learn to long for what is ours.
As President, I will support Hungarians as guided by my personal conviction, i.e. in the values predicated on Christianity, in handing down life. I will encourage that children are brought up under loving care, that human life be protected from conception, I will protect the family, that we respect each other and support the weak.
At home and abroad, I will speak out to help young people to start a family, to combine the responsibilities of a career with those of having children and caring for the elderly. Let us protect the order of creation and the created world, let us support large families, full-time parents, adopters and those who care for their children alone. Let us work to remove all financial obstacles from the way to responsible parenthood. I will also speak out to protect life, representing those who cannot yet stand up to defend themselves. I will direct attention to talented young people.
Hungarians who live in poverty, in places that are invisible for the majority can count on me, too. I will be there among them, I will sit on the stool, listen and represent them. I want to be the ear, heart and mouth for those who are now less heard, seen and understood, so that we can feel that we belong together. And although personal presence is most important of all, this togetherness will be reflected in the community media as well: on my Facebook, Instagram and twitter pages alike.
Thank you for so many of you being here today. Thank you for having made it possible to come here from church, from worship. Thank you for the prayers!
I thank Magdi Rúzsa, Jancsi Balázs and Viki Kádár, the Angelika girls’ choir, Zsura and Zsuzsika’s dancers, the Hungarian Defence Forces and Soma Zámbori for having bought here some of the treasures of Hungarian culture for us to enjoy. I thank the work of everyone who participated in the organisation of this event.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we are looking forward to your visit from one o'clock this afternoon at my new place of work, the Sándor Palace, where I will be working for the next five years to ensure that more of us live better, more beautiful lives here in Hungary, and that we are not the only ones to feel and see this.
As Ady writes:
„Guards, watch out,
Life is alive and wants to thrive,
It has not given all this beauty
To now allow bloody and stupid
monstrosity to trample it mindlessly.
God, bless the Hungarians with good cheer and bounty!
Because yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory!