The President of the European Council, former Prime Minister of Poland, Donald Tusk was honored on Friday with the title of doctor honoris causa of the University of Pécs in the south of Hungary. The laureate received this distinction personally.
The University of Pécs was founded in 1367 by Ludwik Węgierski. The title was awarded to Tusk at the request of the director of the Ferenc Fischer Institute of History. University Senate made this decision unanimously. The Rector of the University, Jozsef Bodis, expressed the hope that with the award of the title of doctor honoris causa to Tusk, the university will be strengthened.
In the application for the award of the title of doctor honoris causa, it was emphasized that “Tusk is a Polish politician with historical education, whose both domestic and European activity is closely related to the history of Hungary, as well as the region and Europe”. During the ceremony, it was emphasized that Tusk was the first representative of Central and Eastern Europe, which in a difficult period took a managerial position in the EU, and one of the European statesmen who always supported Visegrad cooperation, and also did much to deepen traditionally good Polish-Hungarian relations.
Tusk emphasized during the ceremony that being a European is a source of pride for him and he firmly believes in the future of the European Union. As he noted, the most important European values are for him human rights and civil rights, freedom of speech and conscience, the rule of law and respect for minority rights.
“Europe is and has a chance to be the best place on earth, a unique and unique territory of freedom and culture in the future. The condition for its survival is our solidarity that goes beyond the divisions and natural conflicts of interests. The University of Pécs is the best place to speak with all confidence in the European creed, “he said.
According to him, Pecz “is a metaphor of Europe, with the first university in Hungary, the market, the cathedral, the town hall, the most important landmarks of the European city”.
The ceremony, which ended with the re-creation of the EU anthem, was attended by Undersecretary of State in charge of higher education Zita Horvath and the mayor of Pécs Zsolt Pava, who stressed that the countries of Central and Eastern Europe are becoming more and more important players in Europe and may be its engines in the future.
Simply put: there will be no Europe as we know it, without borders and law enforcement, and there will be no Europe we want if our political barbarians get it over from within. The awareness that we have common boundaries and territory must unite us and not ultimately divide us. We should try to reconcile the need for security with freedom, the need for control with openness. Only a wise synthesis will be our victory – said the President of the European Council.
Below is the entire speech:
Some time ago I reached for the book of my favorite author Claudio Magris, entitled “Danube”. A short chapter devoted to the city of Pécs stuck in his memory, or more precisely the praise of the local white wine, which according to the Italian writer beats the red wine from Villána. I hope to see for yourself if Magris is as an outstanding enologist as an essayist. My colleague has already received the appropriate instruction and financial means to enable me to carry out this test on the way back.
However, dear friends, it is right to say that there are other reasons why I accepted this extraordinary distinction that my university honored me with such joy and satisfaction. I will exchange two. First of all, as a Pole – obviously – I love Hungary and Hungary. Not only because, as you know, “Pole, Hungarian – two nephews, and to the sword, and to the glass, both of them, both lively, God bless them” or, in your language, “lengyel, magyar – két jó barát , Együtt harcol s issza borát, Vitéz s bátor mindkettője, Áldás szálljon mindkettőre “, but mainly because, as I remember, Hungary has been an important cultural reference point for my generation for many of my countrymen. Simply put, they were a substitute for the West, dreaming and unreachable for decades. Hungary was the West in music, film, literature, in their political aspirations. The first gramophone record in my home was Franz Lehár’s favorite operetta. My beloved album was the concert album “Locomotive GT in Warsaw”. Today it is hard to believe, but the album, released somewhere in the mid-1970s, sold in Poland to an incredible 750,000 copies. At the same time, we went to the cinema for everything that had the stamp of “Hungarian new wave” and we often argued who is more important to us: Antonioni, Andrzej Wajda, Bergman or rather Miklós Jancsó, István Szabó, or maybe Márta Mészáros.
Even more important for me are Hungarian literary fascinations. In childhood, András Jelky was as important to me as Robinson Crusoe, not to mention such heroes of children’s imagination as Ernő Nemecsek, Feri Áts or János Boka from “Boys from the Square of Arms”, the most beautiful obligatory reading. In my adult life, Sándor Márai was an absolutely unique discovery for me, whose “Dzienniki” I consider to be one of the most important books in the entire history of literature, as well as the “lost fate” of Imre Kertész. And when I say that Hungary was for us the West in a political sense, I have in mind the power of October 1956, which for years influenced the minds and imaginations of my generation and without which there might be no Polish “Solidarity”.
The second reason. As a born in Gdansk, I have a great weakness for magical cities, whose history is tangled and ambiguous, over which various flags flowed and within walls which for centuries lived people of various nations and religions. Your Pécs, my Gdańsk or Triest Magris are European microcosms. Whoever learned their story and tried to understand it, resisting the temptation of simplification, who accurately read the symbols and metamorphoses appropriate to them, will more easily approach the mystery of the phenomenon of Europe. As Milan Kundera wrote in his famous essay “The West Hijacked or Tragedy of Central Europe”: “Central Europe wanted to be a condensed image of Europe in all its richness, a small arch-European Europe, a miniaturized model of Europe of nations based on the rule: maximum diversity at the minimum of space”. Was not this what distinguished Europe from the dangerous neighbors who built their power on exactly the opposite rule: the minimum of diversity at the maximum of space?
I would like to strongly emphasize that when I say that Pécs is a metaphor for Europe for me, it is the highest-ranking compliment in my mouth. And not because I am a European in profession and in a formal position, but because I am with the deepest conviction. Yes, I admit to this kind of extravagance: I love Europe, I believe in the future and meaning of the European Union, and I will not deny it just because there is a temporary fashion for Euroscepticism. Being a European is a source of pride for me.
I know that it is easy to say, “be European,” and it is much harder to explain what it really means. A Chinese, American or Russian will not have such identity problems as a citizen of the European Union, and we know that only Europe as a whole, as a political entity, can cope with competition from these powers. Of course, the overwhelming majority of us define their identity at lower and less abstract levels than European levels of identification without any problems. When I say “I am Polish”, I describe myself as a member of a community precisely described and embedded in specific emotions and history. Ethnic unions are also understandable to me. When I say that I am Kashubia, I see my grandparents, my little homeland, where among the forests and lakes live people still talking in their strange language and nurturing different, the only proper customs. When I say “I am a Gdańsker”, I see the house and the courtyard where I grew up, the first school and the colors of my beloved football club, which my grandfather and father supported, and now my son and grandson. These three identities: national, ethnic and urban are arranged in a harmonious whole, I do not have to define and analyze them, they are just in me, they are me. Is there still room for this European between these identities?
This is. Although we do not have one language, although history divides us more often than it does, although we do not feel tears under our eyelids when we listen to “Ode to Joy” (otherwise, when I’m singing “Poland is not lost”), although we do not have a common football team (o , sorry, I was advised to not touch the painful topic of football national teams at all), so despite all these “though”, European identity exists and is much more than other “continental” identities. Because not only geography connects us. We all (or almost all) agree that Europeanness also has a cultural, political and even axiological dimension. Let’s start with the map.
Europe is a common territory and common boundaries. Smaller surface than the physical map shows, because we reach it up to the Ural, and yet when we think Europe, in the imagination we see a much smaller area, more or less coinciding with the European Union, with Switzerland and Norway formally “beyond”, but somehow ” in “. I do not want to forecast today what the future borders will look like in the east (the question of Ukraine) and in the south (the Balkan question).
The migration crisis combined with the threat posed by aggressive neighbors has shown us with full force how much the common territory and the common border mean for today’s Europeans. Paradoxically, despite the quarrels and conflicts regarding migration policy, we realized that our territory and our borders are a common responsibility and a common good that requires protection and solidarity of all. I reject many arguments, often immoral, sometimes dangerous, which appear in the debate about the openness and tolerance of Europe. I do not accept this aggressive rhetoric, present in the discussion on refugees and migrants, which evokes memories of the worst past in our memory. On the other hand, I find no justification for the sometimes helplessness manifested, such as “this wave is too great to stop it” or submissiveness, like in the novel by Michel Houellebecq. To this day, I am ashamed of those who ordered to cover fragments of sculptures and paintings showing naked figures in one of the Italian museums, so as not to offend the feelings of the Iranian delegation, which made the first official visit in Europe for years. I want everyone to finally understand that the need to protect the external border and the need to protect our interior from racism and xenophobia are equally obvious.
Put simply: there will be no Europe as we know it, no borders and no law enforcement, and there will be no Europe we want if it is infested by our political barbarians from within. The awareness that we have common boundaries and territory must unite us and not ultimately divide us. We should try to reconcile the need for security with freedom, the need for control with openness. Only a wise synthesis will be our victory. Fear of others and reluctance to diversity can not take over us completely. How beautiful today are the words of Saint Stephen, King of Hungary, to his son Emeryk: “The poor and fragile is the country where people live only one language, one morality. Therefore, I advise you, my son, go to all good intentions and give them honest living conditions. May they live with you in greater freedom than where they came from. ”
Europe is also a cultural phenomenon. My cordial friend, Gdańsk writer Stefan Chwin, wrote in response to the essay of the already mentioned Milan Kundera: “[…] if someone asked me about the principle of European unity, I sought it […] in the spatial structure of European cities. Because everyone who has visited many cities around the world at some point notices that European cities – unlike, for example, Asian or African cities – have a similarly organized space without which they would not be European cities. The symbolic center of the European city is the Town Hall and the Cathedral. The cities of Great Russia, erected around the strongholds of the prince, the Kremlin, the Palace of the Governor or the party committee, usually do not have a Town Hall. This difference certainly has a deeper meaning. The Town Hall and Market Square is a trademark of Europe, just like its trademark were the towers of the Cathedral visible over the cities from a distance of many kilometers. “I would add to this landscape University. Now you will understand why, with such conviction, I said at the beginning of our meeting that Pécs is a metaphor for Europe. If we agree that the main signs of the European city are the Market Square, the Town Hall, the University and the Cathedral, this city with the oldest Hungarian university and in the name with 5 churches, for the name of the metaphor of Europe deserves many times.
The European will easily recognize what is common for the Portuguese, Lithuanian, Swede and Croat. Common in spatial order and architecture, music and painting, custom and metaphysical experience. So different and colorful, ambiguous and complicated, we all understand the Bible, Homer, Cicero, Cervantes, Dante, Shakespeare. We will find ourselves in the music of Bach, Szopen and Liszt, in the paintings of Piero della Francesca and Vermeer. And we all feel good in cities where we can easily find the market by looking at the towers of the cathedral and town hall visible from afar. If we want to protect our territory, it is precisely because it is determined not only by the boundaries but also by the symbols of our culture. Let’s remember about it in the upcoming 2018, which will be the European Year of Cultural Heritage.
There is also Europe, just like I would like to see it, a community of political values, among which freedom will always be in the first place. Not everyone recognizes this hierarchy as proper. I know how lively and sometimes brutal is today’s public debate, here in Hungary and in my country, about the catalog of political values.
In this case, however, I intend to be extremely stubborn; someone may say: anachronistic. I can not help it, however, that for me the most important European values are human and civil rights, freedom of speech and conscience, the rule of law and respect for minority rights. In my understanding, the only guarantee I know of the survival of these values is questioned in so many places in the world liberal democracy. Imperfect, fragile, requiring continuous care and care. Undervalued and raped, sometimes defenseless, but – if you put freedom in the first place like me – it is non-alternative.
Europe is and is likely to be the best place on Earth in the future. A unique, unique territory of freedom and culture. The condition for its survival is our solidarity over differences and a natural conflict of interests. The University of Pécs is the best place to make this European statement of faith with full conviction. What I’m doing here. Thank you.