Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said on Wednesday that only countries that have strong national identities and are capable of preserving their cultural, religious and historical heritage can be successful “in these challenging times”.
Countries must regard their national interests as their compass when making decisions, Minister Szijjártó said in his address opening a cultural diplomacy conference. “We don’t accept the ‘dare to be small’ approach,” he said. Only the countries that stand up for themselves under all circumstances can be successful, but this requires a stable foundation which, in Hungary’s case, is guaranteed by a thousand-year-old statehood, a Christian heritage and cultural, religious and historical traditions, the minister said. “Everything in the world today goes against this,” Minister Szijjártó said, arguing that the “international liberal mainstream treats everything and everyone that thinks about national values, traditions and historical-cultural heritages as an enemy”.
Minister Szijjártó underscored the importance of showing the unique values and resources of Hungarian culture to the world. “We belong to the West, our culture is a part of Western culture, but at the same time we are seen as brothers in the East,” Minister Szijjártó said. Hungarian cultural heritage has many ties to the East, he said, adding that the theory of the Finno-Ugric connection meant that “we aren’t seen as strangers in the north, either”. Hungary’s foreign policy strategy is based on mutual respect, which is rooted mainly in “the respect for our culture”, he said. This is why, Minister Szijjártó said, it was important that Hungary operates 26 cultural institutes in 24 countries, adding that Hungarian embassies were also expected to engage in cultural diplomacy activities. Hungary has cultural diplomats posted in 89 locations around the world, he added. Minister Szijjártó said the world was facing a critical period and there were no signs that these challenges would be overcome in the short term.
“We Hungarians once again have to feel the effects of the dramatic historic changes happening in the world on our own skin,” Minister Szijjártó said. “We’re in a unique situation, being the only country under pressure from both the south and the east at the same time.” Hungary has had to take in over 830,000 war refugees from the east and has had to keep out more than 110,000 illegal migrants from the south, Minister Szijjártó said. “And these numbers are growing by the thousands and the tens of thousands each day,” he added.
Photo credit: MTI