Katalin Novák's speech at the UN Meeting on Disaster Risk Reduction
Europe seemed to be a calm, peaceful continent in the last 70 years.
What do we see now? Pandemics, catastrophes, floods, fires and a brutal war in Ukraine. Our European world is not the same as we thought it would be by now.
On top of it, we suffer from the sad picture of empty cradles, and we’re facing a serious demographic crisis in our Western world.
Mr. President! Ladies and Gentlemen!
I’m Katalin Novák the first woman President of Hungary and I have three reason to be here with you today:
1.) We’re affected by the war in our direct neighbour Ukraine, by the demographic decline and challenges we have not faced before
2.) We are compassionate with the countries that are more exposed to natural disasters than we are
3.) I am proud to be present at a meeting where the Hungarian President of the General Assembly, Mr Csaba Kőrösi is presiding the event
Hungary is a middle-sized country in the heart of Europe with a population of 10 million. We have no seas, nor significant natural resources. However, compared to our resources and local conditions, we have made outstanding efforts to help those in need. Only in the framework of the Hungary Helps programme, since 2017, Hungary has sponsored about 300 humanitarian and rehabilitation projects in 54 countries in the value of more than 100 million USD.
On a cold night on 6 of February 2023 a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Türkiye and Syria and claimed the lives of about 50 thousand people, also causing damages in excess of 100 billion USD.
Hungary was there to help from the first moment. I personally visited President Erdogan and the Turkish people and flew over Hatay Province, the region most seriously damaged by the catastrophe. I am proud that a total of 167 Hungarian specialists and 29 rescue dogs saved the lives of 35 people. In addition, we provided Türkiye with more than 100 tons of medicines and medical equipment, and we are also providing help to rebuild a cultural centre and a church.
We also provided 47 tons of rapid aid providing care and housing for the Syrian people who were directly affected by the earthquake. And three medical clinical units were deployed in Syria in the most affected regions. This is just one recent example that shows how important it is not only to protect ourselves but also to assist each other. This is why we launched the Hungary Helps program aiming at giving a quick and effective assistance when most needed.
We were there to help at the floods in Pakistan last year, the year before at the Croatian earthquake, at the lethal typhoons, or at the eruption of the Mount Nyiragongo volcano.
Ladies and Gentlemen!
A final question: whom do we want to save our planet for if not for the next generation?
We need strong families, where we can teach our children to care for their own environment and to help those in need.
Together, we can do even more in order to build a secure and sustainable future. Hungary is ready to help.
His Holiness Pope Francis visited Hungary just a few weeks ago and said: "Let us give a future of hope, not war, to the next generations. A future of cradles, not of graves."
Thank you for your attention.