Martonyi János külügyminiszter angol nyelvű beszéde a „Zsidó élet és antiszemitizmus a mai Európában” című konferencián
Dear Rabbi Baker,
I’m a non-Jewish person, I’m a Catholic, but I also frequently speak with my hands and I’m sure this is not the only thing what we have in common. Because the whole conference was about a common fight, a combat against anti-Semitism, which means a combat against the evil, against deaths, against the destruction of civilisation, against the destruction of the bad side, of the good side in fact of human nature.
So, in a way it is a fight between good and bad. It’s a fight between life and death. And as it was quoted as I understand we choose life. And I think this is the main message of this conference. Yes, indeed, we choose life and life cannot be, can never be defeated.
John Lukács wrote that when the Second World War was coming to an end, Hitler thought that okay, clearly I cannot win the war, but I can still win the war against the Jews. And despite the murder of six million innocent lives, he didn’t win that war.
The State of Israel was founded and Jewish life, culture resurrected across the world. But as it has also been referred to, civilisation is paper-thin. I think Katrina referred to Tom Lantos’s words. So that’s why I fully agree we have to be vigilant, we have to be relentless. As said, we have to get up every morning with the thought that this can never, never happen again. And yes, also we need the survivors, Tom and Annette, to remind us, to warn us, to testify and to tell, to explain the truth.
So yes, anti-Semitism is indeed a crime against humanity, we all know. It’s a crime against mankind. But beyond this universal message, I believe that for us, Hungarians there is also a special significance of anti-Semitism and indeed, of the Holocaust, because the Hungarian Holocaust was committed by and against Hungarians. Both the perpetrators and the victims were Hungarians. And believe me this is our biggest national trauma we have to live with, we have to confront, we have to cope with. So what shall we do? What can we do? First thing, as it has been referred to, to accept and to admit responsibility. As it was done, Rabbi Baker referred to it, eloquently by the Deputy Prime Minister yesterday. I just would like to underline that this statement by Tibor Navracsics was made on behalf of the Hungarian government, was made on behalf of Hungary, it was made on behalf of the Hungarian nation. Just like other statements, including mines, for instance at the beginning of the Wallenberg Year, carrying the same message.
So it is a national tragedy, because there was a community that lived, that has lived with us for, some people say and I believe them, at least twelve centuries. A community that gave an immense and immeasurably immense contribution, to the progress and well-being of this nation, to Hungarian culture, Hungarian literature, Hungarian science, economy and so on and so on.
Yes, that was precisely this constructive living together as it has been referred to by Bishop Gancs, and yes, indeed that was also the Fasori Gimnázium, if you think of the Nobel Prize winners. And yes, it was also the Revolution and the War of Independence in 1848, when our Jewish compatriots were fighting and dying for the freedom and independence of Hungary. And I just would like to assure you Rabbi Raj that yes, they were not only good for Lajos Kossuth, I mean, your congregation, but they are also good for my Government and for my Parliament. So I don’t want to get into all the details, you are a registered church and of course there is an additional revision going on, hopefully with a positive outcome.
But I believe the conference is not only about opposing to the bad, to the evil. It’s also about proposing. It’s also about proposing a future. And that’s why the title carries also the word Jewish life, because yes, we all believe in a Jewish resurrection, a Jewish renaissance in this country. That is also part of the message that we all, we all choose life. We now have a vibrant and flourishing Jewish community. There are of course concerns, which have also been voiced by the conference. But the main point is that we live together. And we very much believe in a constructive living together for the next decades, indeed centuries.
Now let me tell you one or two words about foreign policy, because I happen to be the Foreign Minister of this government. So it’s an old and never-ending debate what foreign policy has to be based upon: upon values, or conversely upon interest, or indeed on both, but there is a given proportion between the two. No secret, I’m one of those, who still believe that fundamentally foreign policy should or has to be based upon values. So if you want to follow values, you have to have ideas. And if you want to have ideas, yes, indeed, you have to accept and you have to recognise responsibility. And when we spoke about our Middle-East policy, when we speak about the state of Israel, we should never, we should never forget about this historic responsibility that we have. That’s point number one. Point number two is that we have a very-very special bond between the two countries. In fact two bonds, of course, the same thing. This is, as said, we have an extremely important Jewish community in this country, but at the same time there is also a 200 thousand strong community in Israel, community of Hungarian-speaking Israeli citizens, many of the by the way are also Hungarian citizens. Many of them by the way will also vote next year, in April. So this is I believe a very-very special bond between the two countries and that’s why I think that our policy always has to take into account these fundamental facts, these fundamental considerations.
Now, coming back to the conference, some people think – they are probably right – that this conference is a gesture, much has been said about gestures, towards our Jewish community, or indeed, Jewish communities altogether. It’s true. But we should not forget that this conference first and foremost helps us and only thereafter the Jewish community. It helps us to live with, to cope with exactly that national trauma I was speaking about. So we thank you very much for this. We are on the receiving side by this conference. And I tell you this, because of course I’m grateful to all who recognised the efforts we make in our combat against anti-Semitism and racism. We also thank to those, who reminded us that this combat has to be continued relentlessly and also it should be, from time to time more robust – so that is the main message, which of course we fully accept. And Rabbi Raj, I would agree with your proposition that next year should be a year of repentance and reconciliation. I would only add that this is something which is not for a year, it is a continuous exercise. Repentance and reconciliation will go on even after next year. And that’s exactly the message that we should never give up. We should be vigilant and we have to renew our strength and our resolve and our determination to fight for the good and to fight against the evil. Whether this is domestic politics, whether this is foreign policy, international relations, we always follow the same principles and the same values.
So I just would like to thank you all for this conference, for the organisers, for everybody, who contributed to this and I would like to thank you Tom, köszönöm Tamás. I thank you for your help that you gave us through your memory and also through your family, Annette and Katrina. My only wish is please stay with us, I’m one of those, who believe, yes, of course you have been and are with us even now, so my only wish is please stay with us also in the future. Thank you for your attention.