Katalin Novák: the cradle of culture is also the family
The cradle of culture – Hungarian and European - is also the family, the roots of culture are in the family – President Katalin Novák stressed at the opening ceremony of the Veszprém-Balaton 2023 European Capital of Culture (ECC) Programme in Veszprém on Saturday.
"We Hungarians have continued to build steadily. We know that we must not only preserve, protect and pass on what our forefathers have bequeathed to us, but also enrich it." –Katalin Novák stressed.
This is why 200 churches were built over the past decade, the House of Opera, the Museum of Fine Arts, the two Halls of Entertainment are shining in their old splendour again, this is why palaces and castles were renovated in the countryside. This is why we have also created new, manifested in the House of Hungarian Music, the Museum of Ethnography or Csokonai Forum in Debrecen. This is why we are restoring the Castle Quarter of Buda and build community spaces in the smallest towns and villages – the Head of State went on to name examples.
As she pointed out, all that is needed now are those to hand down and those to receive the rich inheritance. “The cradle of culture – Hungarian and European - is also the family. The roots of European culture are also in the family" – she emphasized.
These are troubled times. Epidemics, natural and economic disasters, wars are trying to get in the way of life. They want to put an end to prosperity, they want to deprive us of security, they want to tear hope from us – Katalin Novák said.
She highlighted: life will find a way, babies are born in shelters as well, a fierce struggle is going on for a better life despite the rising prices, and artists have not stopped creating. Culture is a source of life and hope. It can sooth pain, relieve fear, promote reconciliation. It reminds us that we must not just survive, but live.
She drew attention to the fact that when we celebrate Hungarian culture, we are not trying to present to Europe some isolated, unusual or unique phenomenon. In the unique, we celerate the universal, our common European culture.
She added: today, we have the President of Croatia here with us – who came home to Hungary for a visit - because the Croatian and the Hungarian culture are intertwined with a thousand threads. The lifetime achievement of people like Miklós Zrínyi, Miroslav Krleža, Verancsics Faustus (Faustus Verantius), Manuel Štrlek or our common king Coloman the Book-Lover express the cultural wealth in Central Europe that forms the foundation for a strategic alliance beyond politics and the economy.
We are celebrating together in the knowldge that Europe needs us at least as much as we need a strong – much stronger than today – Europe of nations. We need the rest of us, the peoples and nations of the Balkans, with whom we have suffered in a community of fate for centuries. – Katalin Novák emphasized.
She stressed: we might have been adversaries at times, but today we work together for mutual benefit. Hungary is fighting to ensure that the countries belong to our common Europe not only in spirit, culture and attitude to life, but also in legal and economic terms. Unification is not assimilation. We will continue to carry, preserve and enrich the heritage of our predecessors, enriching Europe
The President of Hungary emphasised:
In Europe, next to the French, Italians, Scandinavians, Central Europeans, Croats and Hungarians, there is a place for Serbs, Montenegrins, Kosovars, Northern Macedonians, Albanians and the people and culture of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Each nation is an independent note, a unique melody, yet the harmony can only be complete with all of them them included. “Especially if we know that the conductor is not in Brussels, not even among us, but somewhere high above us” – she noted.
Veszprém, European Capital of Culture is a manifestation of the unique and also of what we have in common. This is reflected not just in Veszprém’s history but also in its present. The queens who resided in Veszprém brought Europe to us, and took the world of the Hungarians to other countries in Europe. Christianity, the cultural strength of the Archdiocese of Veszprém, has always been nourished by universal divine and human values.
This is how we are Hungarian, European, Central-European, Christian and the custodians of universal human values. We are people who want to live their lives in a family, as proud residents of their town, their region, their country – Katalin Novák said. She recalled that next to the overture of the programme Veszprém- European Capital of Culture, we are also celebrating the eve of the day of Hungarian Culture, the 200th anniversary of our national prayer.
She added: Kölcsey’s poem, the „Himnusz”, written in a small village in the County of Szatmár, only truly resonates in the Hungarian soul. We celebrate our victories, mourn our defeats and express our hope for a better common future, and even bid farewell to great Hungarians who passed away with it.