President in Berlin: ‘Peace to be guarantee of common European future’
Concluding her two-day visit, Katalin Novak presented the Hungarian Order of Merit, Grand Cross civilian rank, to Wolfgang Schauble, the former president of the Bundestag, the German parliament, at the Hungarian embassy.
Schauble received the high state honour in recognition of his contribution to advancing Hungarian-German cooperation within the European Union and for his influential work in politics reflecting his commitment towards promoting the principle of the equality of member states.
Novak said Hungary was no longer a raft floating between East and West, but has a solid place in the heart of Europe. “This means that Europe would not exist without Hungary, as Hungary cannot exist without Europe either. And equally, Europe cannot exist without Germany, Germany cannot exist without Europe. Our common future is in Europe,” said Novak. In light of the recent adoption of the EU’s sixth package of sanctions on Russia, the Hungarian president underscored the importance of shifting “focus on creating peace” instead of elaborating on the option of further steps in the policy of sanctions.
Schauble, a former chancellery minister, interior minister and finance minister, is a politician “who not only has not changed, but has been able to believe that we have not changed either”, Novak said. “We are the same Hungarians who fought in 1848, in 1956 and 33 years ago for our freedom,” she said.
Novak said that Hungarians “have got used to the fact that they have only few friends in the international arena” and “are alone because of their language, culture and often in politics”. “This is why friends are particularly important who, even if they do not always understand us, conduct debates with us as equal partners and cannot conceive Europe’s future without us,” Novak said, adding that “Wolfgang Schauble has been such a friend for decades to this day.”
Novak cited Schauble saying in an interview that “Germany and the other old members of the EU must have an approach based on mutual respect towards the new members, acknowledging that the other side may at least have as well-established arguments as we do and may be just as right as we are”.
Accepting the honour, Schauble said that the nations of Europe all have their own traditions and beliefs, “but they can only succeed together in the 21st century if they join together”. Speaking about Hungary, he noted his utmost respect and sympathy towards Hungarians in their freedom fight in 1956 and extolled Hungary for its immense role in the 1989 border opening allowing the reunification of Germany.
The ceremony was attended by diplomats, Bundestag members and leading German politicians including Bundestag President Baerbel Bas and former Bundestag president Rita Suessmuth. The Hungarian president on Friday held talks with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Baerbel Bas.