Hungary’s First Female President Condemns Russia At Inauguration
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News reporting from Budapest, Hungary
BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – Hungary’s first female and youngest-ever president was inaugurated Saturday during church-backed ceremonies where she condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Katalin Novák, 44, spoke more forcefully about the war in neighboring Ukraine than her mentor, nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who nominated the married mother of three as head of state.
”We condemn [Russian President] Putin’s aggression,” she said in a speech in front of Hungary’s neo-Gothic Parliament building. Orbán had often avoided attacking Putin,
who he met in Moscow just weeks before the invasion and with whom he had a close relationship.
Novák said, “We forever say no to all efforts attempting to restore the Soviet Union.” The invasion is a sensitive topic in Hungary, where Russian troops crushed the Hungarian Revolution against Soviet rule in 1956.
The president made clear that “We support Ukraine’s accession to the community of European countries” despite concerns about the treatment of ethnic Hungarians. It appears to reference Ukraine’s attempt to join the European Union.
Novák said that although the fighting in Ukraine “Is not our war, we demand the investigation and punishment of war crimes” amid reports of Russian attacks against civilians.
In what raised criticism on social media, she added: “We are not neutral. We stand on the side of innocent victims and justice. We will fulfill our obligations as part of the European Union and NATO” military alliance. Critics said Hungary should remain neutral and questioned the U.S. role in Ukraine.
Yet, without naming it specifically, Novák made clear that Hungary would not support sanctions such as the EU proposed ban on Russian oil import.
Hungary is heavily dependent on Russian energy, and the prime minister was re-elected in part on a promise to keep utility prices low for households. “Hungary is ready to make sacrifices for peace. But not to support decisions that would require greater sacrifices from the people of Hungary than they would cause pain to the Russian aggressor,” the president said.
“We will not give up our sovereignty, which we have fought for so many times, under any circumstance,” Novák added.
She spoke following an ecumenical service in the Reformed Church in Budapest’s historic Kálvin Square celebrated by several different church leaders. She had already taken office on Tuesday, but the church and state ceremony was held Saturday.
Zoltán Balog, pastoral president of the Synod of the Reformed Church in Hungary, said it was the first time that Catholics, Calvinists, and Evangelicals, “accompanied by the Jewish Sabbath prayer,” asked God’s blessing “for the first citizen of the country.”
Novák later said that as president, she wanted to “strengthen the Hungarian people through my personal convictions,” including her faith in Christ.
Novák explained that she wanted to be her nation’s president “through a set of values based on Christianity.”
Those values included “encouraging the transmission of life, the upbringing of children in love, the protection of human life and the family. Respect for one another, encouragement for the weak,” she said.
Hungary’s new constitution protects life from conception, though abortion has not been entirely banned yet. Under the constitution, known as the Fundamental Law in Hungary, the president is chosen by parliament for two five-year terms.
While mainly a ceremonial position, the president is the supreme commander of the army, can veto laws and is supposed to unite the nation through turbulent times, among other tasks.
Novák previously served as deputy chair of the ruling Fidesz party and was family affairs minister in Orbán’s previous government.
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