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Prime Minister Orbán Inaugurates New Imre Kertész Institute in Budapest

MTI-Hungary Today 2020.10.10.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on Saturday opened Budapest’s new Imre Kertész Institute. In his opening address, the prime minister said that “Kertész, a man of vast intellect, could not be labelled in a single category and it was no question that his legacy should be in Budapest, rather than in Berlin, because this was his city.”

Orbán included several quotes by Kertész in his address, and said that “anti-Semitism is contagion, an ideological epidemic, a pastime for filthy souls that turns into murder”, and criticised Hungary’s Left for “running an anti-Semite” in Sunday’s interim parliamentary election in Tiszaújvaros-Szerencs constituency, in northeastern Hungary.

photo: Zoltán Máthé/MTI

The prime minister also quoted Kertész as saying that “there is no species called a multi-cultural society”. According to Kertész, Orbán said, the problems of European civilization should be resolved within that very civilization because “imported solutions won’t work, whether it is ideology or people”. He added that “a liberal spirit, originally all good intentions, have led intellectuals to nihilism and the masses to uncertainty through the faithlessness of the postmodern.”

Orbán said that “heated and low-level” disputes around Kertész winning the Nobel Prize had “put him in a drawer where he would not want to be because a deep intellect could not be restricted by barriers” adding that the author had “stood outside communism because he wanted to live clean” and chose not to participate. “He chose internal emigration in Budapest,” Orbán said.

photo: Zoltán Máthé/MTI

Referring to the new institute, Orbán said the Hungarian government had undertaken cultural projects “beyond its means” because “we are a nation of culture”. He said that the Hungarian government had spent over 4,000 billion forints on such projects since 2010, and cited the Liget Project, a museum complex in Budapest’s City Park, renovation of the State Opera and financing to the film industry as examples.

Mária Schmidt, head of the Central and Eastern European Historic and Social Research Foundation, which will run the new institute, said that apart from researchers, the broader public will also be welcome to the institute, to attend a wide range of literary and art programmes. The institute will also launch research and translation scholarship schemes, she added.

photo: Zoltán Máthé/MTI

The Kertész Institute is housed in an Art Nouveau mansion in Benczúr Street, in the sixth district. The foundation has bought the building from the City of Budapest at a price of 762 million forints (EUR 2.1m) and paid 2 billion forints on renovation.

featured photo: Zoltán Máthé/MTI