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President János Áder and his counterpart Andrzej Duda inaugurated a bust of Hungarian composer and pianist Béla Bartók in Kielce, in southern Poland as part of events marking the day of Hungarian-Polish friendship. The bronze bust was erected in an avenue in the centre of Kielce, which already includes more than forty other statues, including those of painters Marc Chagall and Salvador Dalí and composer Igor Stravinsky. The presidents also lit candles at a memorial dedicated to scouts killed in WW2 and laid a wreath at the memorial plaque of the victims of the Smolensk air disaster of 2010. Earlier in the day, the presidents attended a mass delivered by Bishop of Kielce Jan Piotrowski and András Veres, Bishop of Győr, in western Hungary, who is president of the Hungarian Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

The annual Polish-Hungarian friendship celebrations date back to March 24, 2006, when the two countries’ presidents at the time, Lech Kaczynski of Poland and László Sólyom of Hungary, inaugurated a memorial in Győr.

On Friday, Duda decorated Áder with the Order of the White Eagle, the highest Polish state honour, in recognition of the Hungarian President’s merits in promoting Hungarian-Polish friendship and his support for Poland.

In his speech, Áder noted that other holders of the honour included Karol Wojtyla, who later became Pope John Paul II, Jozef Pilsudski, Poland’s inter-war leader, and “my predecessor and esteemed professor, one-time Hungarian President Ferenc Mádl”.