‘We must take the shaping of the future into our own hands; we must write the future, not follow predictions. A demographic turning point is needed. We need to transform a shrinking population into one that is growing,’ President of the Republic Katalin Novák emphasized at an event organized for members of the Hungarian Permanent Conference and the Hungarian Diaspora Council on Thursday in the Parliament.
She highlighted that the decline of the Hungarian population is not a process that we cannot stop; on the contrary, ‘we must put a stop to the shrinking of the Hungarian population and become a growing one,’ pointed out the President. She expressed that the Carpathian Basin could be the cradle that rocks the children. ‘Let the Carpathian Basin be the source of passing on life,’ emphasized Katalin Novák.
She reminded that in the last 30 years, the population of Hungary has decreased by more than 700,000, the number of Hungarians in Romania has decreased by more than 600,000, the Hungarian population in Serbia has halved, as has that of Croatia. She added that in Ukraine they no longer conduct censuses, but the numbers are most probably not encouraging there either.
Novák underscored that the demographic crisis affects all Hungarians, both within and beyond the borders, including the Hungarian diaspora. She stressed that just because this trend is noticeable and experienced in the Western world, we cannot accept that it is true for the Hungarian population as well.
The President expressed that 2024 could be the year of opportunity for the nation,
and in this exciting year, it will be revealed how we can collectively respond to conflicts and challenges ahead.
She spoke about upcoming elections in the neighbouring countries and the world, and said that an election campaign always affects the life of the Hungarian people, their everyday lives, and their relative peace. It is also a question of how Europe can extricate itself from conflicts and how Hungarians in the Carpathian Basin will fare in 2024.
Novák said that leaders, in both old and changed circumstances, have the task of representing Hungarian interests. ‘I personally consider it my task, even willingly embracing the stamp of naivety, to persuade the leaders of the neighbouring countries to improve the situation of the Hungarian diaspora in the Carpathian Basin,’ she noted, highlighting that it should become natural for leaders of Hungary to have the right to meet with their compatriots at any time.
In her speech, Katalin Novák recalled some memorable visits she has paid to cross-border, historically Hungarian towns since her inauguration last May, including those to Beregszász (Berehove, Ukraine), Nagykároly (Carei, Romania), and Bácsfeketehegy (Feketić, Serbia).
The President paid also tribute to the recently deceased István Pásztor, who ‘set an example of how to remain Hungarian with humanity, patience, perseverance, clever thinking, and a sense of reality, even in the most difficult circumstances, while representing the cause of the Hungarians.’