New Year's address by President Katalin Novák


Fellow Hungarians,

“That our country still stands is a miracle from God!” Thus wrote Sándor Petőfi, who was born 200 years ago today. How true this still is, after the unexpected difficulties of recent years.

We are still adjusting to the flavour of the sounds made when we say “2023”. Meanwhile we are cautiously asking what the coming year holds in store for each of us personally, and collectively for us as Hungarians.

We would like the coming year to be easier than the year that has just passed.
And if it is not easier, then at least let it not be harder!
But if it is harder, let us know how to struggle with its challenges. 
And already knowing how, let us receive the strength and assistance we need for this!

The best way to launch ourselves into a new – and perhaps more difficult – year would be for all Hungarians to simultaneously lay aside their problems: if they could leave behind them the weariness caused by struggling to make a living, the anxiety of an uncertain future, the fear of the threat of war, the disappointment in having to start all over again. 

Difficulties are not suddenly banished with the dawn of the New Year. How could they be?

But we have something to build on. In the midst of life and circumstances that are increasingly difficult, there are many who redouble their efforts and do not look to escape. They remain standing. I have seen this in person with melon harvesters in Drávaiványi, in a small shop in Karácsond, the Mayor of Porva, pastors in Gyulafehérvár, school principals in Győr and Szomor, winemakers in Hegyalja, the Suzuki factory in Esztergom and border guards in Kelebia. I also experienced this with the families I met. I thank them and all those who place their faith and trust in Hungary.

We are a strong, fighting, crisis-resistant nation. We have been hewn from the hardest wood. We live in a land swept by the winds of history, and at a crossroads of peoples. Here talent, the artful Hungarian cast of mind and the resourcefulness encountered in folk tales are not enough. To achieve results we need to apply ourselves industriously, we need to work hard. History has also taught us that our greatest weakness is discord, while our greatest strength is unity. Now is not the time to be despondent, but to be united. Now we can take steps to reassure the loneliest among us of this: You are not alone!

My grandmother taught me this: give to others what you would wish for yourself. If the strong stand by the weak, the young reach out to the elderly and the more prosperous have time for those of more modest means, we will make good use of what we have achieved together over the past decade. Economic performance and a higher standard of living only acquire meaning if, on the threshold of difficult times, we do not retreat into our own private fortresses, but extend our sense of responsibility beyond our immediate family to other Hungarians. Just as we have stood together as one for the Hungarians of Transcarpathia and the Ukrainian refugees, we can now stand with those among us who need help for tomorrow. In the meantime we look to decision-makers to make this struggle easier – whether that be in helping to educate children, in moderating price rises, in supporting young people and pensioners, in giving teachers their due recognition, or in making sound economic decisions. 

The year 2023 is just a few minutes old. We mothers know what it is like to hold a new-born baby in our hands for the first time. We forget the pain and the difficulty, and are full of hope, anticipation, love and smiles.

So together let us take 2023 in our hands and give our smiles to whoever is standing next to us. May it be as the Szekler people wish:

“May God grant all that’s good 
In this New Year,
May He remove all that’s not good
In this New Year;
May he save us from what we fear,
What we hope for, bring it here,
In this New Year!”

I wish you a New Year which brings peace!