Hungary Today’s interview with János Áder

– Mr President, this week you decorated László Papp, the Chairman of the New York Hungarian American Memorial Committee. How do you assess the current situation and the future of the Hungarian diaspora?

– Wherever I go, I meet Hungarians living abroad and I see two things: there are aspiring Hungarians who have arrived in their new countries after ’56 or during the ‘90s. They intend to become useful citizens of the countries that received them, while at the same time they do not want to give up their Hungarian identity. For this, they are ready to sacrifice their time to seek out other Hungarians and to organize programs together. The other organizing force is when there is a proactive representative of the Hungarian state, an honorary consul, a consul general or an ambassador, who helps to coordinate and promote this activity, because it forges a truly efficient and well-functioning community. The Friends of Hungary Foundation is perhaps the most important organization for Hungarians living around the world, which by now has built an international network. Nowadays in the world of the internet, people are able to remain in continuous contact with each other, and many of them actually return to visit Hungary at least once a year. Returning to the land of their birth allows them to meet each other personally and to transform earlier isolated attempts into vivid, everyday relationships. This is turn can reinforce their belief that it is worth preserving their Hungarian identity, because they are not alone, they are not the “last of the Mohicans” who are living all alone in a huge melting pot like New York.
They are important allies of Hungary – especially if they pass on traditions to the next generation, if they teach them the Hungarian language, and teach them about Hungarian culture, even if some of these children may not have visited Hungary. I know that the number of such Hungarians is decreasing, and the temptation is very strong to only hear the siren calls of the majority population. I think we need to do everything in our power to strengthen the positive examples, which show that one cannot deny one’s roots.

– Mr. President, in June you criticized Donald Trump’s announcement to leave the Paris Climate Agreement, saying that the President’s decision “disrespected the future generation and was irresponsible”. Now we hear that the White House has begun to retreat from this position, and would be willing to remain party to the Agreement with some – so far unknown – conditions. Do you find it acceptable, Mr. President, that the United States of America should be allowed to define new conditions for its participation?

– The United States of America has a historic responsibility for this present situation. During the decades following the industrial revolution the United States of America was the largest emitter and the per capita emission in the USA is still the highest worldwide. This is about 18-19 tonnes of carbon-dioxide per person! In comparison, Hungary only emits about one third of this amount. This is why I said that the decision of the United States was “morally unacceptable”: The largest polluter, with a historic responsibility for causing the damage wants to stay away from resolving problem. This is unacceptable.
The President of the United States will not change his decision, if we only sigh and express our regrets. The most important objective was to ensure that this withdrawal from the Paris Agreement did not create a domino-effect: that no one should be encouraged by the example of the United States and say that “if the largest polluters, the Americans, are getting out, why should we honour our commitments? We are also getting out.” Thankfully, we have managed to prevent this.
The other important thing is to find new allies – especially Americans – to send the message to the world that, in this sense at least, there are two sides to the US coin: one is what President Trump says, along with the industrial and the coal lobby, which is not to be underestimated. But there are others in the United States, who continue to be committed to the implementation of the Paris Agreement, such as California and [its governor] Jerry Brown, or Mike Bloomberg. From what I see, there is now a roughly 50-50 split, but if we were to gauge the country’s population for their opinion, then perhaps the supporters of the Paris Agreement would be in majority.

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