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Katalin Novák stressed the importance of peace to Coptic Pope Tawadros II

Katalin Novák, the President of Hungary, stressed the importance of peace to Coptic Pope Tawadros II in Cairo on Tuesday. The Hungarian Head of State asked both Pope Francis and the Coptic Pope to do their utmost to achieve peace as soon as possible.

There is war in Ukraine and there is war in the Middle East, the President said, adding that the current war in Israel and the Gaza Strip highlights the tensions that can arise due to different religious beliefs.

Hungarians are a peace-loving people, and we will do everything in our power to bring peace to Ukraine and the Middle East as soon as possible, the President stressed.

Katalin Novák stressed that Hungarians are proud that their state was predicated on Christian foundations a thousand years ago, and that Christianity and Christian culture still dominate Hungary’s everyday life and celebrations.

Christianity is what holds Europe together as a whole, and when we talk about the need for diversity in Europe, it must be understood as diversity within Christianity, she stressed. The President added that Europe is colourful enough simply because the European population is diverse. We have different histories, customs, cultures, languages, but we are united by our common roots and our common Christian culture – she pointed out.

In Egypt, we can also admire and experience what it is like when Muslims and Christians can live side by side in peace," said Katalin Novák, adding that she wishes the Egyptian people could preserve this. She also said that she appreciated the efforts of Coptic Pope Tawadros II to promote dialogue and coexistence between Christians and Muslims.

Stressing the importance of families, President Novák pointed out that Egypt is ten times the size and population of Hungary. The average family in Egypt has three children, while in Hungary, there are fewer than two. The President would like to understand how to best encourage young Hungarians to have children and start a family. On the issue of helping persecuted Christians, the President Novák said that in Hungary, we all feel responsible for our Christian brothers and sisters, wherever in the world they may live. We have also helped Coptic Christians on many occasions in the past and they can always count on us in the future as well, the President stressed.

Regarding her visit to Egypt, the President recalled that this was the first time that she had the opportunity to meet Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in person, and that their private meeting had gone much longer than planned. This was due to the fact that Hungarians and Egyptians not only respect each other and respectfully acknowledge each other’s differences, but have also been able to find commonalities.

President Novák also met the two Egyptian Coptic women who had been seriously injured in the terrorist attack in Cairo on 11 December 2016 at the site of the attack, at the Church of St Mark. The two injured women thanked the Hungarians for the care and assistance they had received during their rehabilitation in Budapest. 

Afterwards, Katalin Novák travelled to Giza on a Hungarian-made train manufactured at the Dunakeszi Vehicle Repair Plant.