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10th Friends of Hungary Foundation Conference Opens its Doors

Dániel Deme 2024.05.10.

The Friends of Hungary Foundation, publishers of our news portals Hungary Today and Ungarn Heute, have celebrated the opening of their 10th anniversary conference in Budapest. The Conference commenced with the opening speech of the President of the Boards of Trustees, Professor. E Sylvester Vizi.

Prof. Vizi has welcomed participants by saying that wherever he lived in the past, from the United States to Germany or Italy, once his colleagues have learned that he is Hungarian, he was surrounded by respect and affection. He pointed at the amazing work of Hungarian scientists in the world, mentioning our recent Nobel Prize winners Katalin Karikó, and Ferenc Krausz.

E. Sylvester Vizi.  Photo: Hungary Today

He emphasized that the Hungarian capital Budapest is a capital for all Hungarians around the world, hence it has become a meeting point for the conference, and all Hungarians visiting from the diaspora around the world. He had proudly pointed out that the Friends of Hungary Foundation is a publisher of a number of books, such as the volume published on the 800th anniversary of the issuing of the Golden Bull (Aranybulla), the epilogue of which was written by Professor Tamás Sulyok, who was later elected Hungarian President.

The keynote speech was delivered by Miklós Panyi, Minister of State for Parliamentary and Strategic Affairs and Deputy Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office entitled “Strengthening contacts with Hungarians living beyond the borders and in the diaspora”. The presentation was followed by questions from the audience.

State Secretary Miklós Panyi. Photo: Hungary Today

The second keynote speech was delivered by Enikő Győri, MEP for the government party Fidesz, entitled “Hungary’s 20 years in the European Union”.
Where our place is in the world is not a question, she said, it is in the heart of Europe, our 1000 years of statehood is not just a symbol, but a link. Hungary has always been, and remains a friend of Europe, but it is another matter that we are a critical nation and we stand up for what is right. This does not always meet the expectations of Brussels and the foreign press, remarked the politician.
She had also pointed out that there is a national consensus concerning Hungary’s membership of the EU, there is no major party that does not support it. Hungarians are statistically more in favor of EU membership than the EU average, she pointed out.

Enikő Győri. Photo: Hungary Today

Enikő Győri also stressed that overall the EU is a successful project because there is peace within the EU. However, we are concerned about the European project, which originally meant peace and prosperity. The 2008 financial crisis, the 2015 migration crisis, the 2016 Brexit, Covid and the Ukraine war have all put a huge burden on the EU. Despite this, or precisely as a result of these crises, Hungary wants to see a strong Europe.
Hungary has been catching up with Europe very successfully between 1998-2002 during the first Viktor Orbán government, and we could have perhaps joined the Eurozone. Then came 8 “wasted” years when the left-wing governments of Ferenc Gyurcsány and Gordon Bajnai have over-spent well beyond the means of the national budget. Therefore, after the global economic crisis, it was the Ferenc Gyurcsány government that was the first to ask the IMF for aid when unemployment went up to 12% and public debt to 83%.
Our biggest vulnerability now is export, but our biggest partner, Germany, is in trouble, and this effects us adversely, remarked the Fidesz MEP. Furthermore, EU leadership has never been as bad as it is now. The EU used to be driven by economic interests, but presently everything is driven by ideological arguments. In the last few months EU leaders have started to come to their senses to an extent.

The European Commission has announced that it will be a “geopolitical commission” under the leadership of Jean-Claude Juncker (2014-2019). However, there is no need to take such a political approach, there are basic treaties that we should follow instead. Yet nobody cares about them anymore, said Enikő Győri, now they merely want to act in the “spirit” of the treaties. We have to be rule followers. Not only the Member States, but also the European institutions have to abide by the rules.
She also mentioned the Green Deal, a policy that in her opinion the entire European economy is suffering under. This was created with ideological goals, not economic rationality. Europe had lost its competitiveness, and agriculture has been blamed as the main culprit that hinders green goals. As a result, farmers are overburdened with administration and have no time to produce. Now the rules have been eased a little, but only along the lines of massive protests.

Enikő Győri. Photo: Hungary Today

They have also started the rule of law procedure against us, Continued Enikő Győri, and the money is only going to member states through a process of conditionality. We challenged this at court, because we knew that it would be abused. There is now a very federalistic proposal for the future of the EU, in which the member states are no longer even included as a necessary evil, and in which the principle of conditionality applies to everything. It is a German-French proposal that will give rise to a lot of abuse.
The world has started to be divided into “good” and “bad” in the liberal mainstream, the MEP continued. The idea is that only the “good” should cooperate and the rest should be excluded. EU policy is now about trading with the “good” instead of trading with everyone and creating jobs. That is why so many have criticized the Chinese President’s recent visit to Hungary. Add to that corruption scandals, such as that of the Greek MEP Eva Kaili, who is now back and is voting in the European Parliament. Other MEPs like her are also voting for resolutions against Hungary, yet cases like this also undermine the competitiveness of the Union. The EU is weak, and if our partners feel our weakness, they will not take us seriously.

The 2024 Friend of Hungary Award Winners are as follows:

Radio Bocskai Cleveland and Zsolt Molnár

Radio Bocskai was established in 1984 to provide Hungarian news to the Hungarian population in the Cleveland area in the USA. John Caroll University has provided a place and space for the Hungarian voice from the very beginning. Today, thanks to the Internet, the audience for the broadcasts has expanded to include diaspora audiences on the North American continent.

Zsolt Molnár joined Bocskai Radio in Cleveland in the second half of 2012. He created the radio’s website and launched the weekly electronic newsletter. In November 2013, he launched the Scout Radio program, which became Scout Television in 2018. Thanks to the Sándor Csoma Kőrősi program, more young Hungarians have helped and continue to help the Radio.

Zsolt Molnár. Photo: Hungary Today

Katalin Szabó

Catherine Katalin Szabo has been serving the Hungarian community in Toronto Canada since 1988, for more than 35 years. She started as a board member of the Hungarian Cultural Center of Toronto as a youth and cultural organizer, then Vice President from 2005-2009 and President from 2009-2011. Her dedicated work has made the library’s catalogue available to everyone on the World Wide Web and she has also continued her cooperation with the National Széchényi Library.

Every year, she participates in the organization of the Canadian Hungarian Arts Night Festival, an event that gives Hungarian and non-Hungarian communities alike an insight into Hungarian culture, thus spreading positive recognition of Hungary. Katalin Szabó’s decades of tireless work and unwavering commitment to Hungarian causes are recognised by the Friend of Hungary Award.

C. Szabó Katalin. Photo: Hungary Today

Zoltán Fodor-Lengyel

Zoltán Fodor Lengyel is a painter, graphic artist and sculptor in one. He began his studies in Budapest, then continued his studies in Paris at the Sorbonne University, where he studied graphic design, while in Hungary he also studied Hungarian History at the ELTE. He opened his first exhibition in the French capital at the age of twenty. To date, he has had nearly 200 solo exhibitions in several countries around the world.

Zoltán Fodor Lengyel currently lives and works in Madrid and runs the contemporary Spanish-Hungarian foundation he created, Fundación Apoyo el Arte. The artist is a member of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Cadiz and the only Hungarian-born academician in Spain, he is also a member of the Hungarian Academy of Arts. He has given master classes in European, American and Chinese universities.

His works can be seen on the walls of national and international institutions and museums, such as the Museum of Fine Arts, Hungarian National Gallery, and can also be admired in public spaces. The Board of Trustees awarded him the Friend of Hungary Award in recognition of his decades of steadfast artistic work and his contribution to Hungarian culture. As one of his recommenders put it, “there is no better ambassador of Hungarian culture and art, near or far away.”

Zoltán Fodor-Lengyel. Photo: Hungary Today

Featured Image: Hungary Today

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