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Novák Katalin gratulál Wolfgang Schauble-nak

Katalin Novák awarded the Grand Cross of the Hungarian Order of Merit to Wolfgang Schäuble


Dear Celebrating Audience!

Less than a month has gone by since I assumed the Presidency of the Republic of Hungary. I am the youngest and also the only female head of state.
Now I am here to meet your heads of state and celebrate a truly respectable statesman with them. I am here in Berlin, a city I visit several times a year, where I am called not only by duty, but also by the long-standing friendship between Hungarians and Germans.
When I was inaugurated I promised the Hungarian people that they could count on me when in the international world closed doors or doors appearing to be closed must be opened. 
It feels good today to honour Wolfgang Schäuble, a man whose door has never been closed to us. 
I know that few people are familiar with the turbulent Hungarian history or understand the characteristic Hungarian way of thinking. They do not understand how we can eat a slab of bacon by itself, enjoy poppy seed on our pasta, or distil palinka brandy from every possible fruit. But those who have tasted the best of Hungarian cuisine just once are often captivated by its flavours.
We are here today to thank you for your friendship, the willingness to engage in discussion, the intention to understand us and the consistency that you have represented not only in German-Hungarian relations but in every sphere of life, as a Lutheran Christian, as a husband, as a father, as the indispensable member of German public life. 

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen!

Wolfgang Schäuble taught Europe, including us in Hungary, that even under strict budgetary discipline, we do not have to abandon the goals most important for our country. I would like to report to you that we have not only understood and learnt the lesson, but have also proved that the Schäuble-thesis actually works in practice. 
Starting in 2010, we had to recover from a near hopeless economic crisis, reduce our state debt, repay our international loans, mitigate the indebtedness of municipalities and families, put budgetary policy in order. All this has been achieved not by tax increases, but by creating one million new jobs in ten years, cutting taxes on labour and stimulating investment. 
Economic competitiveness, decreasing unemployment and a dynamically growing GDP are important, but they are all utterly useless if we are slowly but surely disappearing in the meantime. Today, there is not a single country in Europe that could sustain itself demographically by itself. Young people would like to have more children than the number of children they eventually have. Since 2010, we have focused on families in Hungary. We use 6.2 % of our GDP to support families, helping them to build a home, create a healthy work-life balance, for women and men to share the responsibilities in a family. I have been in charge of Hungarian family policy for eight years, it is still a matter that has a special place in my heart, so I am sure you will understand if I share some of our achievements with you. In the whole of Europe, the number of marriages has grown most in Hungary, therefore – while not in football – in getting married, we are European champions!
The number of abortions has dropped by half, divorce rates are falling and the desire to have children is increasing.
Apparently, the Schäuble-thesis also applies here: strict budgetary policies must not mean giving up on our most important goals. 

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen!

We are grateful to Wolfgang Schäuble because he knows, but he not only knows, but also says this: we have a shared responsibility for Europe in Berlin, Paris, Warsaw and in Budapest. But we can only take this responsibility seriously if we are capable of thinking with each other’s minds. 
I agree with you: it is time for Hungarian poets to find new metaphors when describing the position of their homeland. Hungary is not a ferry-country shuttling between East and West, it has a stable place in the middle of Europe. Hungary is not a ferry, but a bridge. And I personally believe that there is no Europe without Hungary, and that there is no Hungary without Europe. As there is no Europe without Germany, and there is no Germany without Europe. Our shared future is in Europe, and our shared goal is peace. The European community was established because of a desire for peace, and peace may be the guarantee for our shared European future. 
Our most important goal is peace, we Hungarians want peace in Hungary and also in the neighbouring countries. We want to win peace, not the war! 
Now, after our agreement on the sixth sanctions package, we must assess the actual impact of these decisions, and focus first and foremost on creating peace, instead of thinking about whether we should take further steps in the sanctions policy.
We, Germans and Hungarians, should not engage in ideological debates with one another, but win the race for economic investments together.

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen! 

The debates about the future of our European community are important and valid.
We Hungarians know what we want, we stand up for what we hold true and cannot stand imperial oppression. We exercise our rights – even if it is disliked by many. We respect our opponents; we keep our word and our friends can always count on us. We have not changed, we are still the same Hungarians who fought for their freedom in 1848, in 1956 and 33 years ago. We Hungarians are very fortunate that Wolfgang Schäuble has not changed, either.
Mr. Schäuble is a man who not only has not changed himself, but who can also believe that we have not changed, either. It cannot be phrased better than how he said it in one of his interviews: „Germany and also the old European Member States must turn to the new Member States with respect, we must assume our positions always thinking that the other party has at least as good arguments as we do, and may be just as right as we may be. In other words, we must turn to them as our equal partners.”
We also agree with another sentence of Mr. Schäuble, according to which „those who attempt to play European unity off against the desire for national identity are not strengthening Europe but weakening it”.
It is an essential part of human nature that we are primarily able to bond with our own family and homeland. And Europe can only be strong if people will learn to trust it. 
Wolfgang Schäuble is a statesman whose words will be quoted even at the 100th anniversary of the German-Hungarian Friendship Treaty. And we cannot wish anything else for ourselves but that our two countries should always have leaders who consider this approach as their guiding principle.
We do not need to give up our identity to find common ground and common solutions in certain issues. As a Reformed Christian openly confessing my faith I believe that it is not when I take the cross off my neck that I can represent those of different faiths, but when I press it close to my heart and draw strength from my faith. Ultimately, we also owe thanks to Wolfgang Schäuble because his practicality, honesty and realism helps us restore our faith that the European dream can be realised.

Dear Celebrating Audience!

As many of our Hungarian friends are here with us today, I would like to highlight a few sentences in my mother tongue now: 
Hungary is not a ferry-country shuttling between East and West, it has a stable place in the middle of Europe. There is no Europe without Hungary, but there is no Hungary without Europe. As there is no Europe without Germany, and there is no Germany without Europe. Our shared future is in Europe, and our shared goal is peace. The European community was established because of a desire for peace, and peace may be the guarantee for our shared European future. Now, after our agreement on the sixth sanctions package, we must first and foremost focus on creating peace, instead of thinking about whether we should take further steps in the sanctions policy. 

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen!

It is very important to me that I could begin this morning at the Prayer Breakfast in Berlin. We prayed for peace together, and we prayed that we could always raise our eyes to the sky, turn our hearts to each other and talk to one another „auf Augenhöhe” – without naming, but with all of us trusting in the most important participant. For God is the kingdom, the power and the glory. And we must never forget that.
To you, Mr. Schäuble, I wish you good health, lots of strength to carry out your tasks, and God’s blessing!

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