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Novák Katalin

Statement by Katalin Novák


Speech of resignation - Budapest, 10 February 2024

Dear Hungarian people, so dear to me, from inside the borders and beyond. I am now addressing you. Not the politicians, not the political pundits, but those whom I swore to serve two years ago.

I undertook this responsibility because I love Hungary, our homeland passionately and because I believe in you. I believe that we are a peaceful, loving nation, and that we care for each other. I believe in the silent majority, in the people who work hard day by day, I believe in integrity, uprightness, and in the power of love. These are the values we have inherited from our grandparents and parents, and we want to pass them on to our children and grandchildren.

I adopted a clemency decision which has left many people confused and unsettled. They understandably want an explanation. 

The power of pardon is perhaps the most sensitive of all. Because the decision is about the life of a human being, based on the clemency application and the then available information. In April last year, I decided in favour of granting pardon in the belief that the convicted did not take advantage of the vulnerability of the children entrusted to his care. I made a mistake, because the decision to grant pardon and the absence of the reasons behind it allowed for doubts to be raised in connection with the policy of zero tolerance on child sexual abuse. However, there is no room for doubt here, and there cannot be any. I would never grant pardon to anyone whom I thought abused children physically or psychologically. It was like this back then, and it is still like this today. 

The responsibility of the President of Hungary, also enshrined in the Fundamental Law, is to embody the unity of the nation. Children are our most important treasure. I think that our nation is unified on this matter – despite all the differences of opinion. Protecting children is a duty we all share. I gave birth to three children, so I personally experienced how much a helpless, vulnerable life is in need of security and protection.

As a Hungarian, I would expect the President of Hungary not to make mistakes. If they did, I would expect them to face those to whom they are accountable and take responsibility. Even by resigning from the position of President of Hungary. I apologise to those whom I offended, and to all victims who might have felt that I failed to stand up for them. I stood for families and children in the past, I stand for them today and will stand for them tomorrow. 

Today is the last time I address you as President of Hungary. I resign from my position as President. 
The decision was difficult not for personal reasons. It was difficult because I have taken an oath. Now I had to find an answer to the question whether I would be able to perform the office of President of Hungary to the benefit of the Hungarian nation, remaining faithful to my oath. Would I have the liberty necessary to fulfil my duties well, as a sovereign head of state? My answer to both questions is no.

I apologise to those who now feel that I am abandoning them. Who now feel that hate has conquered love.
The question I had to ask myself was this: what is the message I am sending my children and young Hungarians with my decision? I encourage them to engage in service with all their might and with all their talent. To not give up even in difficult times, to persevere as long as possible, to take responsibility for their mistakes. And, if they feel that they would have to sacrifice their sovereignty, to be capable of handing over their position to someone else with dignity. Sovereignty is a precious treasure. For individuals and nations alike. Let us protect it!

Thank you! Thank you for having given purpose and meaning to the office of President of Hungary. Thank you for the connections - the greatest gifts of these two years. Thank you for the opportunity to sit down on the wooden stool, for the possibility to shift the light to where there is less of it in daily life. Those with whom I have worked together, I thank their high-quality work, dedication, humanity. Thank you to my family for the secure background at all times. Thank you István for having been together for twenty-five years in beautiful as well as difficult times. For helping me show that a man can support his partner just as much as a woman. Thank you Ádám, Tamás and Kata for the joy of being your mother, and for giving purpose to the next phase of my life after public life. 

The world of politics is tough, even ruthless at times. Some think that it is therefore not for us, women. I disagree. Let us not give up! Women are needed in public life as well, because in my belief, with women in public life, over time, the world will become fairer, more peaceful, and undoubtedly more meaningful.
I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the Hungarian nation.

Oh God, bless the nation of Hungary! For YOURS is the kingdom, YOURS is the power, YOURS is the glory.