“According to the Hungarian Government, Europe needs leaders who respect European culture and the nations of Europe”, State Secretary Tamás Menczer from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade emphasised at the annual conference of the Hungarian cultural diplomacy network in Budapest on Tuesday.

“There are currently major debates going on in Brussels about who Europe’s leaders should be”, he stressed. “The ‘horroristic dream’ of the liberals is that Europe will be beautiful if they place the European nations and European culture into a kind of melting pot and mix them with all kinds of foreign cultures, but in contrast, the Hungarian position is that Europe will be ‘beautiful and strong’ if it is built on nations that respect each other’s cultures and preserve their own”, the Ministry’s State Secretary for Information and the International Representation of Hungary declared. Mr. Menczer pointed out that cultural diplomacy is a trust-building and trust-reinforcing activity that is capable of opening doors with relation to which politics may find it more difficult to make progress. “Cultural institutes and diplomats who deal with cultural affairs play a priority role in this, since it is they who make Hungarian culture visible abroad”, he pointed out.

According to the State Secretary’s report, 3100 Hungarian cultural and science diplomacy projects were realised worldwide in 2018, including several cultural seasons, commemorative years and outstanding cultural appearances. Mr. Menczer highlighted the series of High Note Hungary events that accompanied the guest performances of the Hungarian State Opera House and the Hungarian National Ballet in the United States, as well as the concentrated Hungarian cultural presence that is currently ongoing in the countries of the Western Balkans, which are of strategic importance to Hungary. “The events of the Kodály memorial year launched in 2017 also continued, and the Semmelweis commemorative year was also celebrated throughout the world in 2018”, he recalled. The State Secretary added that this year the Hungarian Government is organising cultural seasons in South Korea, Israel, Japan and China, primarily linked to anniversaries of the establishment of diplomatic relations. The State Secretary pointed out that a Hungarian street festival had been held in the Chinese city of Hangchou, Hungary was the guest of honour at the Seoul International Book Fair, and for the first time in the history of the piece, the Hungarian State Opera House performed the ballet the Queen of Sheba in Israel, while in Japan a Sumo champion was awarded the Japanese-Hungarian Friendship Cup. “The Publishing Hungary programme helped the realisation of 147 literary works last year”, he pointed out, highlighting Hungary’s role as guest of honour at the Slovenian Book Fair in Ljubljana. According to Mr. Menczer, the teaching if Hungarian studies is also been given priority importance, with 48 guest lecturers currently teaching Hungarian and Hungarian studies at universities in 26 countries, with a further 25 lecturers to be posted abroad within the next two years. “40 million forints (EUR ) will be spent this year on preserving Hungarian memorials abroad, and the modernisation of the image of the foreign network of Hungarian institutes is also in progress”, the State Secretary added.

At the conference, Tamás Menczer and CEO of the Hungarian National Film Fund Ágnes Havas signed a cooperation agreement that will facilitate the presentation of Hungarian cinematic works at Hungarian cultural institutes and foreign representations abroad. The parties highlighted the role of Hungarian films in the promotion of Hungarian cultural diplomacy and the Hungarian film industry, which produced revenues of 100 billion forints (EUR 310 million) last year.