President of the Republic Katalin Novák delivered her first New Year address on 1 January, honouring what has by now become a presidential tradition. Similarly to her predecessors, the President took stock of both the challenges and struggles, but also the successes Hungary experienced in 2022, and reflected on what it will take for the nation to be prosperous in 2023. President Novák wished Hungarians peace in the new year.
Sights on the Future
The President started her remarks by quoting the great Hungarian poet Sándor Petőfi, who 200 years ago said: ‘It is a miracle of God that our homeland is still standing.’ ‘We would all like 2023 to be easier than the previous year was, or, if it is not easier, at least not to be harder’, the President continued. ‘I wonder what the New Year will bring for each of us personally and for us Hungarians collectively. May we be able to persevere if things get tough and receive the support and strength we need,’ she added.
The President noted that probably all Hungarians wish they cold put their problems aside, exhausted from the struggle to make ends meet, the anxiety brought on by an unclear future, fears of the conflict in the country’s neighbourhood escalating, and some from having to start over from scratch.
However, she emphasized despite all difficulties, there is still a strong foundation to build on: the inner strength of Hungarians. It is not the time to be disheartened, but the time to cling to each other. The problems will not go away overnight with the start of the New Year, she said, but Hungarians have become resilient after having lived through many hardships in 2022. People doubled their efforts in response to the challenges instead of fleeing them, the President highlighted.
‘I personally witnessed this when I visited the melon pickers in Drávaivány, the little shop in Karácsond, the mayor of Porva, the pastors in Gyulafehérvár (Alba Iulia in Romanian), the principals of the schools in Győr and Szomor, the winemakers at Hegyalja, the workers of the Suzuki factory in Esztergom, and the border guards at Kelebia. We are a robust, aspirational, and crisis-resistant country. We live…at the crossroads of nations. Talent, the astute Hungarian way of thinking, and the inventiveness seen in our folktales are not enough; we must also work diligently and hard to achieve our goals.’
Strength in Unity
She continued by pointing out that history has also taught Hungarians that their greatest strength was unity, and their biggest vulnerability was division. Instead of giving up now, Hungarians should form a team so that even the most isolated people know they are not alone. The gains obtained jointly over the past ten years will be put to good use, she added, if the strong stand by the weak, the young reach out to the aged, and the more affluent notice the more well off.
‘Economic success and a higher standard of living gain meaning only if, on the verge of trying times, we do not withdraw into our own strongholds, but extend our responsibility beyond our immediate families to other Hungarians as well,’ President Novák underscored. Katalin Novák recalled how Hungarians joined forces to help the Hungarians of Transcarpathia and the Ukrainian refugees, and exhorted her fellow Hungarians to show the same readiness ‘to stand by those who need help to face tomorrow.’
The President compared the start of 2023 to the first time a woman embraces her newborn child, saying: ‘We suddenly forget the pain, the difficulty, and we are full of hope, anticipation, love, and smiles…This is how we should take on the year 2023 as well,’ she said, concluding her address wishing Hungarians ‘a New Year that brings peace.’