President of the Republic Katalin Novák responded on Facebook to events last week that unfolded when she was addressing the crowd at the unveiling of a statue of 19th-century Hungarian poet and politician Ferenc Kölcsey, the author of the national anthem, in Nagykároly (Carei) in north-western Romania on Wednesday, 12 April. The President wrote: ‘Once again, love defeated hate—the Romanian nationalist provocation in Nagykároly could not take away the solemnity of the celebration of the Hungarians. After a century, Nagykároly has a statue for Ferenc Kölcsey, the author of our national prayer again.’
As she began her remarks at the ceremony, about 50 Romanian nationalist protesters started to cause a disturbance. However, as the population of Nagykároly is mostly Hungarian, those in attendance did not allow the protesters to ruin the unveiling, instead they started to loudly sing a Hungarian folk song and the national anthem of Hungary, drowning out the voice of the few demonstrators.
The President then addressed the crowd and told them that she is happy to be there despite the protesters, and stated that ‘no one can take away’ the happiness of those present. She added that there are still those today who would love to do anything to attack Hungarian culture and heritage. ‘We will not let this happen,
we need to stand up for our future and our past together,’
The unveiling ceremony was part of her visit to Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County, during which she visited Nyíregyháza, Csenger, Csengersima, Nyírbátor, Vásárosnamény, Tiszaadony, Mátészalka and Kékcse. She also uploaded a video on her Facebook page detailing her visit to these cities. The tour came honouring her pledge made after her inauguration that she would visit every county in Hungary.
Other than visiting Hungarian locations, the President has been extensively travelling abroad as well since she was inaugurated. Successfully assuming a diplomatic envoy-like role, she recently visited Turkey, the US, Iraq and Jerusalem as well. Her focus on promoting international diplomatic relations is part of her programme as President of the Republic. As she has explained, she would also attempt to show her counterparts and politicians abroad that the Hungarian policies that defend families and children are an example to follow all over the world.
On Wednesday, she also met with Slovenian President Nataša Pirc Musar in Budapest. During their joint press conference, Novák highlighted that this is the first time that both these countries have a female president. She also reminded that after her election, her first official trip led Slovenia. The Hungarian President said during their talks, the Russo-Ukrainian war, the Western Balkans integration, cooperation between the two countries and the case of national minorities and demographic questions were discussed. Katalin Novák underlined that her counterpart and her agree on the topic of the war and they both condemn the Russian aggression, both wanting to find a way to achieve peace. For this, ‘we need to find allies, because the threat is to the entire region’, she emphasised.
The Slovenian President praised the economic cooperation between the two countries. She highlighted that Hungary recently became the seventh most important trading partner of Slovenia. She emphasised the importance of the joint goal of the two countries of becoming less dependent on Russian energy. President Pirc Musar underlined the importance of an agreement she and Novák signed before the press conference about cooperation between libraries. In terms of minority rights, the Slovenian President stressed that there are no countries that are ‘ethnically pure’, so ‘we must do everything to safeguard the minorities in every country’. She added that the fact that she and President Novák are both women will contribute to demonstrating that today women can achieve goals thought impossible before. Responding to a question, she also underlined the importance of pro-family policies.
President Novák was also scheduled to visit Ukraine in the upcoming days. Her office announced on 19 April that her trip to Transcarpathia will take place at a later date, ‘probably in the upcoming weeks’.