Katalin Novak - Photo: Facebook

Novak: ‘Absolutely essential’ that war in Ukraine does not escalate, ends swiftly

It is "absolutely essential" that the war in Ukraine ends as soon as possible, and the conflict must be prevented from escalating, President Katalin Novak told public television late on Thursday. Referring to ethnic Hungarians in Ukraine, Novak said Transcarpathian Hungarians "should not only exist in their homeland in a hundred years' time but Hungarian life there should thrive." Those who have been forced to leave should be helped return and allowed to use their mother tongue, she said.

Concerning the war itself, Novak said it was “shocking” to see its “daily terrors”, but on the other hand it was also possible to witness “selfless help and acceptance even in this trying situation”.

Meanwhile, she said: “Russia has not defined its goals, and President Putin does not even call his operations a war … so it is hard to foresee how things will develop.”

Answering a question about whether she planned to restore the presidential tradition of holding regular consultations with the opposition parties, Novak said she considered it her duty to “find a voice with everybody who seeks dialogue”.

Novak said efforts to build national unity could not be narrowed to political parties because “they are groups with different views and sharply conflicting positions”. She said it was her task to “learn about those positions and understand them as far as possible”. A presidential position, however, provides an opportunity to keep a distance from daily politics, she said.

The president suggested she would follow the practice of Janos Ader, her predecessor, and “sign a hundred laws if they are good and reject a hundred others if they are bad”. “I will decide based on my best conscience,” she said, adding that the goal was not to “survive a five-year mandate without conflicts with anybody”.

On another subject, Novak said democracy was a way for people to promote their will and “if people express their will in a democratic way and they make a decision that must then be taken as directions”.

“I can often see that many will take offence and be angry with others because they have made a different decision, and consider the process anti-democratic because people have not chosen their position”. “Not everyone in Europe or in Hungary is doing especially well as far as acceptance is concerned, and they tend to declare something anti-democratic just because they don’t like it,” she said.

Concerning the European Union, Novak said Brussels had “grown to be a hydrocephalus” which is “primarily interested in maintaining and further reinforcing itself in many cases to the detriment of good decision-making”. In the EU it was “sovereign nation states that decided to coordinate their interests and movements in certain areas, but they must not be stripped of their sovereignty or their national character”, she said.

Meanwhile, Novak said the country’s family policy “should give a response to the serious question of why young people cannot have as many children as they would like”. It is an important challenge for the state “to help those who think they are left without support, people with financial problems prevented from having children, those with fertility issues or families with children facing difficulties,” she said.

“Saying yes to life, and to the family — living as a family in everyday life — is a cultural question,” she said, adding that “the family is important for us Hungarians”.

Novak said Hungary’s demographic indicators were “moving in a good direction”. The government “is spending a lot on family support and this has not ruined the Hungarian economy … on the contrary, thanks to one million new jobs, parents can again take up employment.”

Novak said that in five years’ time she would like to see a “smiling Hungary” which is “proud of its values and ready to fight for those values while being open to others.”

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