Meeting with the President of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Duda
Press statement - Warsaw, 17 May 2022
Dzień dobry! Good morning to you all!
I came here to Warsaw with love in my heart. I do not primarily see it as a step of diplomacy – that my first foreign trip has taken me here to our Polish friends, – I consider this to be a matter of course, arising from our thousand year long friendship and the fact that we, Poles and Hungarians, have always felt so close to each other in values. I am pleased that right on the day after President Duda’s round birthday anniversary – I will not say exactly how round, because then you could draw conclusions about my own age –we can meet here in Warsaw, and I am pleased that he has received me with such cordiality. We stand on similar ground. We both cherish our Christian conviction, our faith, and wish to protect traditional families and advance the interests of our nations.
If it were a time of peace, I would continue with what is most important for our future, which is how we can support young people to establish a family, have children, and bring them up with responsible, loving care. But this is not a time of peace, because there is war. War is raging in our shared neighbourhood, in Ukraine. Today is the 83rd day of a war waged by Russia, and this is why we cannot avoid talking first and foremost about war. I am a mother, the mother of three children, two boys and a girl. As a mother, I am shocked by what I see. I am shocked not only by the images, but also by my personal experiences. I spent four days at the border and I also visited the other side. I personally saw how families have been torn apart, I saw mothers who had to leave their husbands behind, whose young sons have been conscripted. I saw children who fled from their homes in utter uncertainty, who were crying because they did not know what would happen to them tomorrow or in a week. It is shocking to see these images and meet these people both as a mother and as a head of state.
After my election, when I took office, in my speech I summarised in ten points what this war looks like from Hungary’s viewpoint. I would now like to share these ten points with you.
We condemn Putin’s aggression, the armed invasion of a sovereign state.
We eternally say no to every effort aiming to restore the Soviet Union!
We Hungarians want peace, here in Hungary as well as in our neighbouring countries. We want to win peace, not the war!
This war is not our war, but this war is also fought against us, peace-loving Hungarians. We long for security, mutual respect and prosperity. We demand that war crimes be investigated and punished!
We are not neutral. We stand with the innocent victims and with the truth. As members of the European Union and NATO we meet our commitments, and when we have the right to say no to a decision and the interests of Hungary so require, we say no.
Under no circumstances are we willing to give up our hard-won sovereignty! We are continuously developing our defence forces.
We support Ukraine’s accession to the community of European countries.
We are prepared to make sacrifices for peace, and do not prevent our allies from making sacrifices. Yet we will not consent to decisions demanding a bigger sacrifice from the Hungarian people than the pain such decisions inflict upon the Russian aggressor.
We are willing to play a mediating role between the warring parties to facilitate the continuation of peace talks.
We have insisted on respect for the rights of Hungarians in Ukraine before, we are insisting on these rights now, and will continue to insist on these rights even after the war.
The escalation of the war is the worst scenario for us all, therefore we see long term, stable peace as in our best interest.
In our discussions with the President, we mentioned the special relationship of both Poland and Hungary to Ukraine. We agreed that in our history, there are certain difficulties that must now be set aside when we stand up for Ukraine. Today, Ukraine defends the gates of Europe. There are many innocent victims in Ukraine today, that is why we have to stand up for the innocent victims and for the Ukrainian people. Poland and Hungary, as countries neighbouring Ukraine, find themselves in a similar situation. We were confronted with similar difficulties when after the war broke out, the flood of refugees started to Poland and Hungary. In Poland and in Hungary alike, people took action to help at the same time. No questions were asked. People did not reflect about whether it was worth it, did not think of the pain, the difficulties and the sacrifice this may cause them. They were there, stood united and helped from the first moment. Civil society, mayors, civil aid organisations and churches all helped. Both Poles and Hungarians passed the test of compassion and willingness to help with the highest mark.
We are a country of ten million people. So far, 700,000 refugees arrived in Hungary as a result of the war in Ukraine, and every day 10-13 thousand more are entering Hungary through the Ukrainian-Hungarian border, i.e. very many people in Hungary need help today. And we have decided to help these people, whatever the costs for Hungary might be. After the bloodshed by the Russian troops in Bucha, Hungarian aid was the first to arrive at the site. So far, we have spent 50 billion HUF on crisis management to remedy the consequences of the war, and we offered an aid package of 37 million EUR at the donor conference.
As the President rightly mentioned, in terms of energy supplies, Hungary is not an independent country. In Hungary, we need the sources of energy arriving from Russia. From this perspective, Hungary’s situation is more difficult than the situation of most EU member states. We have voted in favour of every one of the five European sanction packages against Russia, and I will thank President Duda, thank Andrzej, for his continued support with once again helping us enforce the criteria that are important for Hungary in the sixth sanctions package.
It is in Hungary’s vital interest to diversify our energy supplies, to increase our sovereignty and our independence from Russia in this respect as well. For this, however, we also need funding, we need money. This is also why I thank President Duda that we together can call on the Commission to give both Poland and Hungary access as soon as possible to the Recovery Fund which we legally have a right to. Poland and Hungary could always count on one another in Europe. This will continue to be the case in the future. We are both determined in this, and will not allow anybody to drive a wedge in the friendship between the Poles and the Hungarians.
In closing, I would also like to mention that next to the war, we also spoke about the perhaps most important, most serious, most burning issue for Europe, and therefore for Poland and Hungary and for our future. Poland and Hungary are both Christian countries. We stand on Christian foundations, and our key priority is to support traditional families by all possible means. Right now, Europe is unable to sustain itself on its own. There is not a single European country where enough children are born to sustain the population at its present level. Young people are unable to have as many children as they would like to. This is also why it is important that over the last decade, Poland and Hungary have done everything in their power to remove the financial obstacles for families to have children and grow. We protect life, families and children. For us it is important that children could grow up in physical, psychological and emotional security, and we will put in place the conditions that are necessary for this. Bringing up their children is the right of the parents, no one can take this right from them, and we will resist all such attempts both in Hungary and in Poland.
From the Belvedere Palace, I go directly to the statue of Poland’s excellent former president, and will pay tribute to Lech Kaczyński on behalf of the Hungarian people. I am also meeting Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Speaker Elżbieta Witek today. I will also visit the elementary school of the Sisters of Nazareth, where I will meet not only Polish and Hungarian children, but also Ukrainian refugee children. I am pleased to announce that I will offer 5 million HUF from my personal presidential budget to enable this school to put in place all the necessary conditions for the children having fled Ukraine.
Although our interests and points of view may not coincide perfectly on every single question, there is a lot more that unites than what separates us. I am glad that the meeting today took place in this spirit. Pope John Paul II would turn 102 years tomorrow. He said a prayer in 1991, and this is how I would like to end my thoughts.
„Hear the unanimous cry of your sons and daughters, the urging plea of all mankind: No more war, irreversible adventure; No more war, a web of sorrow and violence; Grant our age days of peace. No more war!”