President of the Republic Katalin Novák stated on Tuesday after holding talks in Budapest with Vahagn Khachaturyan, the President of the Republic of Armenia that the two countries aim to strengthen and fill with content the relationship between Hungary and Armenia.
The President emphasized that this is Vahagn Khachaturyan’s first official presidential visit to Hungary. She said their discussions covered various topics including peace in the world, Hungarian humanitarian assistance to Armenia, demographic challenges, the importance of bilateral relations, the situation of minorities, and Armenia’s European perspective.
Novák recalled that diplomatic relations between Armenia and Hungary resumed at the end of 2022, and this is the second time an Armenian president has visited Hungary since the regime change.
An agreement was reached at the event regarding the cultural work plan between Armenia and Hungary, which was signed by Balázs Hankó, Deputy State Secretary responsible for higher education, on the Hungarian side. The President recalled that
Hungary has offered 30 scholarship places for Armenian youth in the Stipendium Hungaricum programme,
which can contribute to further strengthening bilateral relations.
The President drew attention to the ongoing wars in Russia-Ukraine and the Middle East, stressing that the ultimate goal is to achieve peace through ceasefires, peace negotiations, and the realization of long-term peace. She mentioned the Hungary Helps Programme, through which Hungary has supported Armenian families with 40 million forints, including medical treatments. Approximately 1000 children who had to leave their homes will be able to attend camps in Hungary.
Novák emphasized the important connecting role of the Armenian minority living in Hungary, which received two billion forints in support between 2011 and 2023. The Armenian minority living in the country is strengthening, developing, and exercising their rights, with their numbers having increased by 18 per cent compared to 2011.
Referring to the common Christian connections between the two countries,
she stated that through Hungary Helps, assistance to persecuted Christian communities will continue.
She emphasized that Armenia can count on Hungary’s support in strengthening European relations and the issue of visa liberalization when it takes over the presidency of the Council of the European Union.
Responding to a question, she explained that she stands for the swift ratification of Sweden’s NATO accession, as she did before. Novák mentioned that she had a phone call the day before with Ulf Christersson, the Swedish Prime Minister, and reaffirmed the invitation to Hungary. ‘I encouraged him to come to Hungary as soon as possible so that we can talk, so that they can also talk to the Prime Minister, and show their intention to convince Hungarian representatives.’
Regarding a question about presidential pardons and her latest pardoning of a man, a former deputy school head, sentenced to imprisonment for attempting to convince a minor to reverse their testimony accusing the school director of paedophilia*, stated that as a mother of three children, she stands by Hungarian families and children. She stressed her disgust for paedophilia, considering it one of the most repulsive and serious crimes. ‘During my presidency, there has not been, and there will not be, clemency for paedophiles, as was the case in this instance. I was one of the most vocal advocates of strict action against paedophiles and the introduction of a registry of paedophiles at the time.’ She added that by law the considerations behind presidential clemency decisions are not public. Therefore, it is natural that every clemency decision raises questions, and these questions may remain unanswered.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán also welcomed the Armenian President at the Carmelite Monastery. During the talks, Viktor Orbán stressed that the relations between the Hungarian and Armenian nations are based on strength and mutual respect and a common Christian culture. The PM opined it was time to elevate diplomatic relations to a high level, and remarked that in the future, bilatral economic and trade cooperation could significantly develop, for example in the fields of energy or tourism.
*Last Friday, it was disclosed that at the end of last April, Novák had granted a presidential pardon to the deputy director of a children’s home. The man had received a 3-year, 4-month prison sentence, of which he had served one year and five months, after which he was placed in reintegration custody in March 2023.
Sources: Hungarian Conservative/Sándor Palace/Press Office of the Prime Minister/MTI