Greetings from Pál Schmitt, President of the Republic of Hungary
„Along these lines, I sincerely hope that Hungary’s EU Presidency will be a time for action, with difficulties never seen as excuses but rather as mission and obstacles that can and should be overcome."
Dear Hungarian and European citizens,
2011 may be a great year. It is great if we succeed in finding a path where we are willing to walk along and where everyone can catch up and keep pace. We need firm steps, a clear itinerary, an accurate map, and leaders who can guide others. As the EU’s incumbent presidency state, Hungary is ready to lead, serve and take on its shoulders the management of the common issues of half a billion European citizens.
The Hungarians are an equestrian nation. Therefore, we know well how to gather momentum, jump over hurdles and spur horses for a gallop. We take over the reins from Belgium in difficult but equally exciting times. We take this task as a historic mission and the fulfilment of a great hope as we have always been Europeans in our hearts, habits and innermost feelings, ever since we founded a state a thousand years ago.
This attachment was natural in the past. Although never lost completely, it became so strongly strained during the years of dictatorship that we had to make efforts to recover it, just like the spirit of Europe from the ruins of World War II. I wish that during the next six months and in the effervescent reality of the issues concerning us all, the Hungarians could rediscover their common values with a willingness to assume their unity and the noble and responsible feeling of European identity.
This would make us self-conscious Europeans, who knew the European Union, loved and understood the advantages of affiliation, feeling the strength and seeing the beauty of interdependence. We are all interested in a strong Europe. But it can only be and remain reality if we are strong, determined and trustful both on our own and together.This year, Europe is celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Franz Liszt, which makes the EU Presidency especially beautiful, proud and melodiously effervescent for us.
The works of Liszt’s condense whatever we consider to be European values: multilayered – national and European – identity, historic horizons, common civilisation, a blend of the beauties of different lands, a cohabitation of different characters, the constellation of stars, creative temperament, and centuries of refinement which involves both devotion and open-mindedness.
Liszt, who travelled all the way Europe with his art, once wrote this about determination: “To examine, consider, calculate and ponder are necessary operations – they surely are. But then we need to decide, act without bothering too much about where the wind is blowing from and what kind of clouds are going through the sky.” Along these lines, I sincerely hope that Hungary’s EU Presidency will be a time for action, with difficulties never seen as excuses but rather as mission and obstacles that can and should be overcome.
It is a special grace that we can put to the service of the European Community our capacity that has enabled us to stand up again and start afresh in whatever circumstances, in these times of serious dilemmas, bitter fights and decisive issues. The Hungarians can make the Community’s cause a success, because they gain strength from their historic experiences along with their present enthusiasm and determination.
As a former athlete, I know very well what team work is and what it feels to work for the sake of the community. We need to make a similar joint effort now. We are aware that by holding the EU’s Presidency, we need to work not only for ourselves but also for the citizens of the 27 member states and all those who should be with us. We hope to close the accession talks with Croatia soon, but we also need to pay attention to the other countries where Hungarian communities live.
‘Challenge’ is no longer a dictionary entry, but a motto to be put on each page and day in our calendars. Everything is changing in Europe. The opportunity has come for us to shape it in a way that makes us proud.