President Katalin Novák appeared on a programme titled Aréna on the commercial radio station InfoRádió late Tuesday, 12 September. One of the main topics of conservation was the upcoming Budapest International Demographic Summit, held at the Budapest Museum of Fine Arts on 14–15 September later this week. Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is also scheduled to speak at the event.
President Novák pointed out that this is a bi-annual event held in Budapest for the fifth time, and that while its main focus is ‘what is happening to Hungarians in Hungary, in the Carpathian Basin, and in the diaspora’, she does recognize that low birth rates are a problem affecting the whole of Europe. As she highlighted, there is not a single country in Europe with a high enough birth rate to maintain its population, let alone increase it. That is why the Demographic Summit will feature heads of states and governments, as well as church leaders, from all over the world.
She went on to talk about the incentives the Orbán government has been giving to families, such as tax exemptions, but also stressed that the main way of encouraging young people to be willing to have more children is not through financial aid. As she put it,
it is primarily about ‘family-centric thinking’.
This way of thinking, Novák believes, is about engaging with the instinct within us that tells us how important of a role ‘the family, where we’ve come from, where we were born into, our siblings, our expanded family, and our children’ play in our lives, as opposed to individual ambitions.
Referring back to the upcoming Demographic Summit, President Novák called Hungary ‘the Mecca of family-focused thinking’, which is why she believes so many state and church leaders from so many countries and cultural backgrounds are coming to Budapest to ‘think about the solutions’ to the demographic crisis.
The next major theme was the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War.
About the war, she spoke in a rather pessimistic tone, claiming that ‘not only do the decision makers have no end in sight, but they cannot even see a pathway leading to end yet either’, and that, even worse, ethnic Hungarians are also losing their lives in the conflict in Ukraine. She went on to say that she would welcome ‘earnest, open talks’, ‘in a lot more informal terms’ with other world leaders behind closed doors about the possibilities regarding the war, and how to help Ukrainians without having to get Hungary or NATO directly involved. However, she believes that the international community is lacking such conversations.
President Novák also noted that she believes that, unfortunately, there has been a ‘setback’ in the rights of ethnic Hungarians living in Transcarpathia, which she brought to the attention of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine at their personal meeting. As she put it, she can only hope this will have some positive impact on the matter eventually—however, she is not a naive person, just an optimist.
About her diplomatic role, the President emphasized that
it was a deliberate decision that she made her first international visit after taking office to Warsaw, Poland
in May 2022. She believes that President Andrzej Duda of Poland ‘can help Hungary a lot’. She also stated that, in her opinion, one of her main duties as President of the republic is ‘to make the negative image formed intentionally about Hungary more realistic’.
Sources: Hungarian Conservative/MTI