The European Patriot Award was presented this year for the third time, and Chair of Oltalom Charity Society Gábor Iványi was voted this year’s winner by the public. The award is presented every year on the occasion of Europe Day on 9 May to a distinguished person who has made an outstanding contribution to the promotion of Hungarian and European values. In 2019, the award was founded by MEP István Ujhelyi and András Sándor Kocsis, a fine artist and book publisher, when they jointly inaugurated the only public statue in Hungary commemorating Hungary’s EU membership in the Rusz-Bazsant Park in Kispest. The European Patriot Award is a small replica of this sculpture, which is also the work of András Sándor Kocsis. The prize has so far been awarded to János Bródy, a songwriter-performer, and Béla Markó, former President of the RMDSZ (Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in
This year, members of the Community of Chance put forward a number of nominations for this year’s winner, with the top three nominations being chosen by an online vote to decide who will receive the award in 2023. This year’s nominees were former President of the Teachers’ Union Zsuzsanna Szabó; President of the Civil Bázis Association Péter Horgas and Gábor Iványi, who received the most votes out of nearly 5,000 that came in. The awards ceremony took place on 19 May in Rusz- Bazsant Park in Kispest, next to the sculpture celebrating Hungary’s EU membership. Founder of the Community of Chance, MEP István Ujhelyi said at the event that „we live in an age when the propaganda machine is trying to turn us against our European Community, not only by deceitful government propaganda but also by its misguided followers. According to Ujhelyi, the situation is no better than when the statue of the EU was unveiled four years ago in the Kispest park, because, he said, we still have to fight day after day to prevent propaganda from persuading Hungarian society to believe that anyone who claims to be European cannot be a patriot at the same time. „The European Patriot Award is all about conveying the feeling and message that we can be patriots, good Hungarians, parents or even grandchildren while keeping in mind our Europeanism and treating as a value, not as an enemy, all that has forged the peoples of Europe into unity after centuries of hard times and bloodshed,” the MEP said.
Mayor of Kispest Péter Gajda emphasized at the ceremony that the European Union should not and cannot be seen as a bottomless wallet, as it is a community to which Hungarians have belonged for centuries, and from which we cannot be separated, no matter who wants to tear us apart. „The European Union is a community that means peace for us! No matter what anyone says, if we were not members of the Union, we might find ourselves today in the middle of a war that no one wishes to imagine! The European Union is not only a source of money for us, not only a community but also peace”, said Péter Gajda, adding that he was also pleased that the public chose Gábor Iványi for this recognition this year because „he himself is a symbol of peace and tranquillity.”
András Kocsis, the artist who created the award and the sculpture, said in his speech at the event that Gábor Iványi is like the grass in Ferenc Juhász’s poem, because whatever happens to it, it will not break, it will always grow straight and come storm or rain, it will grow again even if it is cut. According to András Kocsis, the pastor’s „gentle energy” is admired by everyone, and everyone in the country should bow
their heads to his work, because „when Gábor deals with people, they don’t ask people warming in the shelter who they voted for, but whether they are hungry or cold,” the artist said.
After receiving his award, Gábor Iványi recalled in his speech his memories of Kispest and the small church he founded in this district. „This period brought out in me and confirmed that if there is a meaning to pastoral ministry, it is social ministry. This includes recognizing all the ills of the poor and supporting them and disadvantaged children. I’m not advocating that churches take over public education, but I do believe that where there is a problem buying a pair of sneakers, or where children do not get to eat hot meals except at school, or where elderly people have become homeless, we be present in that environment with this sort of practical credo,” he said. He also added that he never dreamed that what happened to him during state party times would be repeated and that ” it would be Fidesz to deprive us of our church status again.” Iványi, however, said that he had many years of experience behind him, so he had not and would not be shaken.
„For this people, which I love dearly, to take on this task is not a big deed, in fact, I consider it an honour to be able to do this work. It is also a privilege to have experienced, from time to time, the unpleasant side of it, so that I can be one with those whose interests are more difficult to defend, whose voice rarely reaches the parliamentary horseshoe, and whose decisions are very often taken over their heads, against them and not in their interests. I am happy to have been of service to them! It is a great privilege for me! It’s not what I was really prepared for, but it’s great that it started like this fifty years ago! How long it will continue, I do not know but I can be a citizen (as far as it is possible) in a very good place, in a very important district, doing very good things, in a great country with many miseries and on the edge of Europe where things are never clear and it is very difficult for everyone to take responsibility for what has happened in this country, even in the last hundred years (…) God bless you,” concluded Gábor Iványi at the European Patriot Award ceremony.
Budapest – 19/05/2023