The following is a translation of an article written by Zoltán Szalai, Chief Editor at Mandiner, originally published on Mandiner.hu.
We can say, albeit cautiously, that 2023 was a year of struggle, but also a year of achievements.
It is always difficult to take stock of a calendar year, even if it is already over. A single day can turn a whole year around: almost two years ago, on 24 February, Ukraine’s 2022 and beyond was decided. In Israel, the events of 7 October 2023 shook not just the entire region, but the whole world.
Although we Hungarians do not need to fear such a jarring turn of events, God is warning us to be cautious in times like these,
because one of the characteristics of such twists is their unexpectedness.
To appreciate what the most important events of a year were, we need some distance, some real perspective. This was also confirmed for me by a roundtable discussion last week about the new book by the Prime Minister’s political director, Balázs Orbán, titled Huszárvágás (Masterstroke). When, as moderator, I asked the author about the milestones in the collapse of the unipolar world order, he mentioned a symbolic date, 2001. However, he did not say so because of the terrorist attacks on the United States on 11 September of that year, but because that was when China joined the World Trade Organization, with US support.
At the time, this subject certainly attracted the attention of economists and international relations experts, but its epochal significance is perhaps becoming clear only now, 22 years later. That is why I am inclined, not just out of superstition, but also out of historical prudence, to caution readers against proclaiming the year 2023 as clearly one sort or another. Instead, I will take a brief summary of developments that should fill us all with pride and optimism. Most significant of all: Hungary is doing well, because
inflation has been contained and the economy is functioning well despite the withholding of EU funds.
Moreover, the outlook is positive, as a significant part of the funds is promised to be made available to us soon by the European Commission. In the meantime, our country continues to fight for its interests—and for the future of the European Union—by taking a different stance on issues of destiny, defying the Western mainstream, and by influencing the life of the continent, whether it is the migration crisis or EU enlargement policy.
But politics is not the only thing.
At the end of April, Pope Francis visited our country, which was a great honour for all believers. In a speech urging peace, the Holy Father aptly called Budapest the capital of bridges, saints, and history. In August, the same city hosted the World Athletics Championships, not only the second-largest sporting event in the world, but also the largest in our history.
Besides, the first week of October was a great boost to our national pride as well:
uniquely in the history of Hungarian science, we have gained two Nobel Prize winners in a single year,
Katalin Karikó in Physiology or Medicine and Ferenc Krausz in Physics.
Just a month later, our national team achieved a long-overdue success in football, our favourite sport, by qualifying for next year’s European Championship as group leaders.
In light of all this, we can say, albeit cautiously, that 2023 was a year of struggle for many of us, but a year of achievements and success, too. If we take the word ‘struggle’ out of the previous sentence, we could even turn this assessment into a New Year’s wish.
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