Katalin Novak - Photo: Facebook

Novak: President independent of government

President Katalin Novak, in an interview with news portal Telex on Friday, said she considered Hungary's constitution the most important source of law and saw herself as an independent actor from the government.

Novak said her number one responsibility was to represent Hungary, adding that she spoke on behalf of her country on all her foreign visits. Though it is the government that primarily defines Hungary’s foreign policy, the president is the one who represents the country at the highest level, she said, noting that it was key for her to have all the necessary information before sitting down to negotiate. Novak said that all of her discussions with the prime minister cover foreign policy.

Novak said she meets with Prime Minister Viktor Orban for roughly an hour on a weekly basis, adding, however, that she does not consult the government or the PM’s cabinet office about her own messaging.

She said she had the opportunity to express criticism of the government, though so far she had not felt the need to do so.

Asked if she needed to distance herself from the will of the government, the president said she adhered to the constitution in this respect as well, adding she considered herself an independent actor from the government.

Novak said she considered the view that Hungarian public life is about the decisions of the government a simplistic one.

As regards the Russia-Ukraine war, she said it was “unacceptable” to attack a sovereign state, adding that she believed the majority of the Hungarian people agreed with this. Novak said she believed Hungarians wanted peace and did not want to get drawn into the war.

“We stand by the victims, and this isn’t just lip service but demonstrated by our actions as well,” the president said. “I feel that Hungarians have been able to put all their past grievances behind them and have been helping out wherever necessary since the start of the war.”

Novak also said she had no plans to visit Kyiv and had not been invited to Russia, either. Asked if she would visit Moscow if invited, Novak said: “This is a theoretical question which I don’t think is relevant now.”

Concerning her duty of signing bills into law, she said what mattered most to her in this regard was that the bills are in line with the constitution and that signing them served the best interests of the Hungarian people.

“As for the submission of legislative proposals, it’s possible that I will make use of this opportunity over the course of the five years, but I have no such plans at the moment, so I won’t identify any specific areas,” Novak said.

Asked if she supported tougher abortion laws, Novak said her past comments about supporting those who “protect life from the moment of conception” was not about wanting a stricter abortion law. She said she would not initiate an amendment to the law on abortion, even though she believed that life should be protected and wanted to help as many people as possible keep their conceived babies. Novak said she did not believe that now would be the time for Hungary to amend its abortion law.

Asked how she wanted to represent the LGBTQ community, Novak said she was “a president of actions, not gestures”. “I want as many Hungarians as possible to feel that I’m their president too,” she said. “That, of course, also includes homosexual Hungarians.”

Novak also said she considered the declaration in Hungary’s constitution that the mother is a woman and the father a man to be evident. She vowed to protect the amendment of the constitution which defines the family as the union of a man and woman, one based on parent-child relationship.

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