Katalin Novak - Photo: Facebook

President resigns over child abuse scandal

President Katalin Novak issued a statement on Saturday, addressing the Hungarian people "at home and beyond the border". "I now address you -- not politicians or policymakers -- but those whom I swore to serve two years ago," she wrote.

“I took on this task because I passionately love Hungary… I believe ours is a peaceful, loving, caring nation. I believe in the silent majority, in people who work hard every day, I believe in honour, in being upstanding, and in the power of love…”

Novak referred to her recent decision to issue a pardon which, she said, had “caused confusion”, and people expected an explanation.

“The power of pardon is perhaps more sensitive than anything else…. Last April, I decided on clemency believing that the person convicted had not abused the vulnerability of the children entrusted to him. I was wrong, because the pardon and the lack of justification raised doubts about zero tolerance for pedophilia…”

“Let there be no doubt: I would never pardon anyone whom I believed would have physically or mentally abused children…”

Novak said it was the duty of the president to represent the unity of the nation.

“The child is our most important treasure. I believe that the nation is united on this point… Protecting children is our common duty.”

“As a Hungarian, I would expect the president of the republic not to make mistakes,” she said, adding that responsibility must be taken in such a case.

“I apologise to those I have offended and to any victims who may have felt that I was not standing up for them. I was, I am and I always will be for children and families.”

“As head of state, I am addressing you today for the last time. I am resigning from the office of President of the Republic,” Novak said.

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