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Monday, 23 March 2009

The President of Hungary on a two-day visit to Poland

The President of the Republic of Hungary, László Sólyom, paid an official state visit to Poland. At 10:30 a.m., a welcoming ceremony took place in the courtyard of the Presidential Palace. Afterwards, László Sólyom had a meeting with Lech Kaczyński.

During celebrations in the Column Hall, the President of Poland awarded a posthumous distinction to Hungarian hero, János Esterházy. Lech Kaczyński emphasized that he was delighted to be able to award the distinction to a Hungarian hero who had blood ties with Poland and who saved a great number of Poles and Jews. The President reminded those present that, as a “reward" for his deeds, János Esterházy had spent many years in Soviet prisons. In 1957, after several years spent in gulags and prisons, he died.

“We always meet on the Polish-Hungarian Friendship Day; of course, we meet more often as well,” Lech Kaczyński said at the briefing that followed.

“Today we discussed issues concerning Polish-Hungarian relations and our common EU and NATO membership. We also discussed the Western Balkans and Ukraine. We have, in other words, discussed the problems connected with the foreign affairs of our countries and also with their internal situation,” he summarized.

Sólyom, on the other hand, emphasized the importance of close cooperation between Poland and Hungary, both individually and within the European Union. “In 2011, when Poland and Hungary preside over the EU, we will have a unique chance to represent our interests,” the Hungarian President remarked. Hungary will hold the EU presidency in the first half of 2011 and Poland in the second half.

The two presidents also discussed matters such as the Eastern Partnership which was created on Poland’s initiative, the chance of the Balkan countries joining the EU, and the Treaty of Lisbon. The Hungarian President added that the discussion also addressed the effects the economic crisis has had on Poland and his own country. They also discussed matters concerning the issue of relations between Poland and Polish minorities abroad, such as the Polish Charter.

The visit of Sólyom has also had a symbolic character, as on the 23rd of March Hungary celebrates Polish Day and Poland celebrates Hungarian Day. 

On Tuesday, the second day of the visit, the presidents visited Krosno. A special ceremony to commemorate Hungarian cities that accepted Polish refugees in 1939 took place in the town. Lech Kaczyński handed a letter of congratulations to the representative of the 70 Hungarian towns and cities that helped Poles during World War II. Both leaders unveiled a memorial plaque on the building of the local court, at the site where the Hungarian Gate used to stand. 

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