Foreign AffairsHistory

“Central Europe Is Experiencing A Renaissance”, Hungarian PM Says On His Visit To Poland

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán met Jarosław Kaczyński, head of Poland’s ruling PiS party, for talks in Kraków on Friday. The two leaders discussed issues around Europe’s future, the migration crisis, as well as economic issues, Ryszard Terlecki, deputy speaker of the Polish Sejm, told reporters after the talks. Terlecki said the nearly three-hour meeting took place in a “very good atmosphere”, signalling a “deepening friendship” between leaders of the two countries.

Krakkó, 2016. december 9. A Miniszterelnöki Sajtóiroda által közzétett képen a kétnapos látogatáson Krakkóban tartózkodó Orbán Viktor miniszterelnök (b2) koszorút helyez el Waclaw Felczak lengyel történészprofesszor emléktáblájánál a Jagelló Egyetem Történeti Intézetében 2016. december 9-én. MTI Fotó: Miniszterelnöki Sajtóiroda / Szecsõdi Balázs
Viktor Orbán laid a wreath at a memorial plaque in honour of Wacław Felczak at the Jagiellonian University of Kraków

The Hungarian Prime Minister spent two days in Kraków, where he addressed a conference marking the 100th birth anniversary of historian Wacław Felczak, and attended the unveiling of a plaque commemorating Polish supporters of Hungary’s 1956 anti-Soviet revolt. In his speech delivered at the Jagiellonian University, Orbán said that the Hungarians and the Poles have come to understand that they must seize control of their fates, and by uniting their efforts history has given them the chance to make Central Europe the most successful region in Europe and the world. This is what the V4 are working on, he said, and “there is no point in aiming for a lesser goal”.

Polish historian Wacław Felczak (1916–1993) won a state scholarship to study history at Eötvös College in 
Budapest between 1938 to 1939. In 1940 the underground resistance sent him back to Budapest, from where he 
organised the Warsaw-London-Paris courier service. He was arrested by the Czechoslovak state police after 
having agreed to help rescue a family from communist Poland and secure their passage to the West. The Polish
security agencies sentenced him to death for espionage; his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment,
and he was finally released in October 1956. In 1958 he resumed his career as a historian at Krakow’s 
Jagiellonian University, where he wrote his magnum opus, “A History of Hungary”. In 1987 he returned to 
Eötvös College as a guest lecturer, and also gave a series of lectures at Bibó College, which was just 
across the road. In 1991 he became an honorary member of current Hungarian ruling party Fidesz.

Central Europe has now come close to how Professor Felczak wanted to see it; while earlier the Habsburgs, the Germans and the Soviets wanted to administer the region, he said, today the EU “is unifying, embracing and protecting” it. This, he added, is a more favourable state of affairs than has ever been experienced before. Viktor Orbán reminded the audience of the fact that the members of the Visegrád 4 (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) stand up for each other; the common stance taken by the V4 countries on the issues of European reform and immigration; and the region’s economic development. The region is now displaying its better side, and Wacław Felczak would be pleased with the situation today, he said. “Central Europe is experiencing a renaissance, and is growing and developing continuously and dynamically”, Orbán noted.

The Hungarian and Polish governments have set up a fund named after Professor Felczak. The fund, designed to support intellectual cooperation between Poland and Hungary, is supported by the two countries with one million euros annually.

via hungarymatters.hu and kormany.hu; photos: Balázs Szecsődi – kormany.hu