25th September 2012

Speech of President János Áder at United Nations' General Assembly in New York

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

One of the highlighted issues of this General Assembly is the issue of the rule of law. This is an important issue. Especially for someone, who has had the opportunity to personally experience the lack of it.

Hungary – my country – belonged to the communist, socialist bloc for long decades. In 1949, a mere 4 years after the end of World War II, the communist take-over of power had been completed. Multiparty system had been eliminated. The majority of the leaders of political parties formed after World War II were forced into exile or were imprisoned.

I was born ten years later. I spent my early adult years – and thus my political awakening also – in a dictatorship. In fact my two older children were still born in that system. Our generation – just as our parents – had an everyday experience of being deprived of human rights and liberties. Independence? From what, when soviet troops kept Hungary under occupation. Free elections? How? When political parties were non-existent and even in 1988 it was a crime against the state to form political organizations. Constitutional freedoms: the freedom of speech, the freedom of assembly, the right to practice religion freely, the right of assembly – existed only on paper or not even on that. The end of the 80s – the fall of the Berlin Wall and of the Iron Curtain – brought democratic changes to Hungary.

We could organize free elections again – more than 40 years later - in the spring of 1990. Preparations for the peaceful transition, then the post election years can be deemed a successful era from a rule of law perspective. However Hungary did not have a consolidated, new constitution, which – simply through its number in the title - was not reminiscent of the 1949 Constitution. It was this shortfall that the Hungarian National Assembly rectified in April of 2011, when it adopted the new Fundamental Law of Hungary.

The youngest constitution of Europe incorporates almost all the elements of the European Charter of Human Rights, along with the rule of law institutions of checks and balances established in 1990. As a new element, constitutional constraints – compliant with the rule of law - have been imposed to curb irresponsible public spending and the reckless increase of state indebtedness. The new Constitution of Hungary provides constitutional guarantees for the fulfilment of international legal obligations and for compliance with the generally accepted rules of international law.

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