It’s been a symbolically strong week: Fidesz is trying to erase the last shreds of the ideal of the republic from the Hungarian state establishment – this time at the „Sándor Palace” – and has not even bothered to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the referendum on our accession to the European Union in any way.
Of course, at such times we must repeatedly remind ourselves with a slap on the forehead, that back in the day there were two Fidesz politicians who, claiming to have had more important rural commitments, stayed away from Parliament when we ratified Hungary’s accession to the EU (yes, it was Viktor Orbán and János Áder), but we can also recall the arrogant eccentricity of the current Prime Minister in 2003, when – 20 years ago on this very day – he refused to travel with the Hungarian multi-party state delegation to Athens, where Péter Medgyessy and László Kovács finally signed the EU accession treaty of Hungary. Already then, they were frowning at Europe, who knows why.
Since then, the leader of Fidesz and the party he rules took an even wilder twist: from civil democrats to turned into anti-European, illiberal political adventurers. The thrill of the two-thirds power seems to have completely intoxicated those at the top, and their senseless war against the European Community has now turned from a harmful manoeuvre into a rampage that will destroy generations. Never before has it been so important to defend Hungarian interests in Europe and to protect European values in Hungary. That is why every civil and civic act that serves the preservation of our shared homeland in Europe is increasingly valued.
This year, for the third time, the European Patriot Award will be presented on Europe Day; each year, it is awarded on 9 May to a distinguished person who has made an outstanding contribution to the promotion of Hungarian and European values. I founded the award in 2019, together with painter, sculptor and book publisher András Sándor Kocsis when we inaugurated the only public statue in Hungary commemorating our country’s EU membership in the Rusz-Bazsant Park in Kispest. The European Patriot Award is a small replica of this public sculpture, which has so far been awarded to singer-songwriter and performer János Bródy and former RMDSZ president Béla Markó.
The members of the Community of Chance have put forward a number of nominations, but this year the wider public will decide in an online vote who of the three most nominated outstanding personalities will finally receive the European Patriotic Prize in 2023. One of them, President of the Teachers’ Trade Union Zsuzsanna Szabó is a fierce defender of the rights and interests of students and teachers, and therefore a courageous organiser of the joint campaign for European quality education in Hungary. Also receiving numerous nominations is set and costume designer Péter Horgas, former creative director of the National Theatre, who is currently organising and building an active and pro-Europe network of civil movements in Hungary as President of the Civil Base Association. The third candidate is Pastor Gábor Iványi, head of the Oltalom Charitable Association, a former candidate for President of the Republic of the opposition parties, organiser of numerous charitable initiatives, and an undisputed role model for pro-European Hungarians.
All three candidates set a clear and unambiguous example to all of us who want to live in a shared homeland free of exclusion and hatred, where individual advancement is based on talent and hard work, not on political or kinship grounds, and where the values of the European Community are a guiding light. For me, it is a great honour in itself that the three candidates all gladly accepted their nomination coming from the members of the Community of Chance; whoever the votes go in favour of, I am sure that the award will go to a person who perfectly fits the spirit of the award. Votes are expected to be cast via the Community of Chance website: https://eselykozosseg.hu/europai-hazafi-dij-2023/
After the Hungarian Prime Minister’s landmark 2014 speech in Tusványos, in which he proclaimed the illiberal state, I vowed that as an MEP I would write an open letter every week to warn the public of the crimes of the system that had been built. I am ringing the bells of alarm for the 403rd time and will continue to do so tirelessly for as long as it is necessary. Because we must give our shared homeland a new chance.
István dr. Ujhelyi
Member of the European Parliament / Founder of the Community of Chance