At a meeting with Pope Tawadros II in Cairo on Tuesday, President Katalin Novák asked the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria to do everything possible in the interest of urgent peace.
The president added that she will meet Pope Francis in Dubai on Saturday after addressing the United Nations COP28 climate summit. President Novák noted that there were wars going on in Ukraine and the Middle East. She said the war in Israel and the Gaza Strip highlighted the kind of tensions differences between religious groups could lead to. “Hungarians are a peace-loving people, so we’ll do everything possible in the interest of there being peace in Ukraine and the Middle East as soon as possible,” she said. Novák said Hungary was proud to have been founded on Christian principles 1,000 years ago, adding that this Christianity and Christian culture was defining in Hungarians’ everyday lives and holidays to this day. She said it was Christianity that bound Europe together, adding that “when we say that Europe needs diversity, it is meant within Christianity”. The president said Europe was diverse enough through its different peoples who all had different histories, customs, cultures, and languages even though they were linked by their shared Christian culture. Meanwhile, President Novák said Egypt also set an example of how Muslims and Christians could coexist, expressing appreciation for Pope Tawadros II’s role in promoting dialogue between the two faiths. Underlining the importance of families, Novák said there was an average of three children per family in Egypt compared with less than two in Hungary. She added that she wanted to understand how young Hungarians could be encouraged to have children and families. Concerning the aiding of persecuted Christians, the president said Hungarians felt responsible for their Christian brethren regardless of where they lived in the world. Hungary has helped the Coptic community on numerous occasions, she said, adding that they could count on Hungary in the future as well. Speaking about her visit to Egypt, Novák noted that on Monday she had met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi for the first time. She said their meeting had gone on longer than planned because Hungarians and Egyptians both respected the other nation along with their culture and differences, but also found their similarities. Novák also met two Coptic women who were severely injured in a terrorist attack in Cairo’s Coptic cathedral in December 2016. At the meeting at the scene of the attack, the two women thanked Hungarians for the help they received during their rehabilitation in Budapest. The president then travelled on to Giza on a train manufactured in Hungary.
On another note, President Katalin Novák said in an interview published in the regional daily Petőfi Népe on Tuesday that, “We must make starting a family an attractive option for the next generation.”
In her interview summing up a recent visit to Bács-Kiskun County, the president noted the government’s decade-long work in consolidating family policies, insisting the country had “achieved a pro-family turnaround unparalleled in the welfare world”. She said she had visited a family with five children in Tiszaalpár, and the young family was “proof that you can give so much even with modest means”. Concerning Hungarian communities in neighbouring countries, Novák said Transcarpathia Hungarians “may be in the most difficult situation”, noting the war and that circumstances for Ukraine’s ethnic minorities had “considerably deteriorated in recent years”. She added, however, that the Venice Commission’s position that Ukraine’s leadership had set expectations in terms of improving minority rights and offered “some faint hope”. “Ukraine is at war; its becoming an EU member is a distant goal, but the integration of the Western Balkans should be speeded up: this would serve the interests of both Hungary and the EU,” Novák said. Concerning her visit to Bács-Kiskun, Novák said her programme had been “packed” with visits, meeting locals, visiting factories, schools, and the country’s southern border. Regarding the latter programme, she said: “Hungarian families can sleep in safety thanks to those who are protecting the Hungarian border.” She said the country’s border control system conveyed a clear message: “Whoever doesn’t follow a [legal] path isn’t welcome.” She added that the point of her visit to the border was to thank border guards for “protecting not only Hungary’s security but that of Europe, too”.
In Kiskunhalas, the president attended the oath-taking ceremony of 99 young army officers. “It’s good to see that more and more young people have a calling to protect the homeland.” Meanwhile, the president said, “we Hungarians are present at nearly all locations in the world.” Referring to the post-WWI Trianon peace treaty, she added that many Hungarians had been “forced to leave when the country was mutilated”. Others, she added, had been “expelled by the communist dictatorship or went abroad to follow their dreams or calling.” Hungarians’ extensive presence in the world was, she said, “an asset for the nation”. “As president, I seek communication with the diaspora, as ethnic Hungarians have worked for many good causes worldwide,” she said.