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Hungary’s survival “is not a given, so we have had to fight for it and we must continue fighting for it by means of law, the achievements of culture and the results of science,” President Tamás Sulyok said at a ceremony during which high state awards were handed over on the eve of the March 15 holiday.
At the ceremony held in Parliament, Sulyok quoted a well-known line from the revolutionary poet Sándor Petőfi: “‘Rise, Hungarians!’ is not a simple exclamation but an imperative spanning centuries: an order to fight for rights and freedom given at a time when [Hungarians] were stripped of their rights and oppressed,” he said. “We learnt how to dance with legs tied up, and steadily rebuilt the country, improved our language, strengthened our institutions and communities, while our scientists were always at the forefront of innovation, even in the hardest of times,” he said. “Our culture is not just a guarantee for our survival but an incentive, an infinite set of values, which will not only nourish us but inspire us to do great deeds, to brilliant achievements and fantastic discoveries,” the president said. Hungarian culture is universal “in the sense that it is a part of the national identity … should we disappear, the world will be smaller,” he said.
Referring to recipients of the Kossuth and Széchenyi prizes as well as those of the Hungarian Order of Merit present at the ceremony, the president called them “architects of Hungarian culture and science who have enriched the European and global human treasury with their achievements.” The awardees’ achievements “strengthen the nation, and everybody benefits … the prizes are a respectful recognition of the results of perseverance, commitment, decision, talent, and knowledge which took decades to accumulate,” he said. “Those with a talent have an obligation to cultivate it to the utmost so that they can bring the most benefit to their peers, because every person is worth as much as the good they can provide to their fellow humans and homeland,” Sulyok said. Meanwhile, the president said the lesson of 1848 was that “we cannot be successful without exercising rights … we will need enthusiastic lawyers in all times, because … homeland is where people have rights.”