György Habsburg on Hungary: Personal Experience Often Contradicts what Foreign Media Writes
Fanni Kaszás 2020.03.10.
Slovenian news portal Rtvslo.si interviewed György Habsburg (Georg von Habsburg) and among other topics, he talked about the past and present of his family, politics, and his life in Hungary. He said that living in Hungary, he often sees that what he reads in the foreign press about the country does not necessarily correspond to what he experiences in everyday life. Habsburg added that many criticisms are unfounded, and that is why he strives to improve the image of Hungary abroad.
The article introduced the story of the rise and decline of the Habsburg dynasty, and then the life story of György Habsburg. He said his family is so closely connected with Central Europe and Central European history that it goes without saying that they are present in many countries.
Habsburg said he saw the historical role of his family in the fact that until the outbreak of World War I, they were quite successful in bringing together different languages and nations who lived peacefully with each other, which „is also something that characterizes today’s European Union.”
He said that in Hungary, the Communists had treated them badly, but now, the view of his family in Hungary is generally positive. He attributes this to the rapid growth that followed the 1867 Austro-Hungarian Compromise, which remained in the minds of the people.
As for his move to Hungary, he told the journalist that he didn’t plan to live in the country, but when the Austrian-Hungarian border was opened in 1989, they were able to come here. He wanted to learn the language. He added that it happened that he started working for a television channel here, later he got married and had kids and stayed in Hungary.
He then talked about his father, and his family’s politics, adding that his family has been in politics for 800 years, so it is obvious that they are „all somewhat political. You cannot be involved in politics for so long and then lie that you have withdrawn from politics.”
He then added that he is also „politically active as a Hungarian ambassador. I worked intensively on Hungarian integration into the EU and, as ambassador, I was often active in the European Parliament. Today, I am the Special Envoy responsible for UN issues, Olympic affairs, and some other areas.” However, he said, as a diplomat, he could not afford to be over-influenced by party politics, as they are representatives of the state, not the current policy set by a party-determined government. He said:
“I think it would be a good idea if we were more concerned with politics today than with party politics.”
He also talked about how he sees that what the foreign press writes about Hungary does not necessarily correspond to what he sees in the country living here.
“I find that many of the criticisms are in fact unjustified, so I also see it as my task to try to correct the image of Hungary abroad and present the true image.”
However, he added that he agrees that „we can sometimes criticize various issues that a government is pursuing, but we must not forget that there are also signs of positive development: that economic development is good, that Hungary is a stable country, which is also developing positively in regional and multi-urban context groups.”
György Habsburg said that he thinks the main problem is that many media outlets do not see firsthand and forget when they write about Hungary as a special case, that the country is an EU member state.