ATTILA BALÁZS (Novi Sad/Újvidék, 1955), writer, translator, journalist. Author of twelve books of prose. Founder of the cultural magazine Ex Symposion. He worked as editor for the YU Radio-Television, and moved to Budapest in 1991. For a time he worked as war correspondent, then as political correspondent for the newspaper Pesti Hírlap. His works have been published at home and abroad. In 1994–2012 he was editor of the cultural programmes of the Hungarian Radio. Among many distinctions, he has received the Attila József Prize for Literature and the Book of the Year Prize 1999.
ZOLTÁN BALOG (Ózd, 1958) is Minister of Human Capacities and pastor of the Reformed Church. He has been active in the parliamentary group of Fidesz since 1990. From 1998 to 2002, he was chief advisor to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. As a theologian, he held office at the European Protestant Open University between 1992 and 1998 and has been the leader of the Protestant Forum since 1996. From 2003, he was the Director-General of the Foundation for a Civic Hungary, where he is currently Chairman of the Advisory Board.
FERENC BÓNIS (Miskolc, 1932), musicologist, university teacher. He received his degree from the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music in 1957. His main research interests centre on the history of Hungarian music between the 16th and 20th century. He is the author of numerous books and series including Élet-Képek: Bartók Béla (2006) (Scenes from the life of B. B.), From Mozart to Bartók (2000), Hungarian Musicology, a series collecting the works of classical masters of Hungarian music from 1959, and Hungarian Studies in Musicology from 1968.
JÁN FIGEL’ (Vranov nad Topľou, 1960), studied power electronics at the Technical University of Košice. He received his PhD from St. Elisabeth University, Bratislava, in 2007. He joined the conservative Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) in 1990 and was elected to the National Council of the Slovak Republic in 1992, serving on its Foreign Affairs Committee and becoming a member of Slovakia’s delegation to the Council of Europe a year later. In 1998 he was appointed State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He also represented the Slovak government in the European Convention which drafted the European Constitution. He returned to the National Council in 2002 where he chaired its Foreign Affairs Committee, stepping down in 2004 to take up his Commission post. From 1995 to 2000 Figeľ lectured on international relations at Trnava University. From 2012 to 2016 he was Vice-President of the National Council of the Slovak Republic.
GYULA ILLYÉS (1902–1983), one of Hungary’s internationally best known poets and writers, worked and studied in Paris between 1920 and 1926, and became connected with the Surrealist poets and artists. Back in Hungary, in the Thirties, he was invited to work on the literary magazine Nyugat (The West) by the Editor-in-Chief, the famous poet and writer, Mihály Babits. Being an anti-nazi and a prominent member of the National Peasant Party, Illyés was pressured by the Communists to join their cause after the Second World War, but to no avail. His secretly written poem from 1950, One Sentence on Tyranny, became the emblematic work of the October 1956 Revolution, banned in Hungary until the late 1980s. Returning to publication in 1961, Illyés lived to a productive and successful old age, renewing his poetry, writing dramas, translations and essays.
GÉZA JESZENSZKY (Budapest, 1941), D. Phil., historian, graduated from Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest. From 1976 to 2011, he taught at what is today Corvinus University of Budapest. Was a Fulbright Visiting Professor at UC Santa Barbara in 1984–86. Taught the history of international relations and of Central Europe at numerous other universities in the US and Europe. He was Foreign Minister of Hungary in the first non-Communist government (1990–94), then Ambassador to the United States of America in 1998–2002, and in 2011–2014 to Norway and Iceland. He is the author of numerous publications on history and foreign policy. his latest book in English is Post-Communist Europe and Its National/Ethnic Problems (Budapest, 2009). His account of Hungary’s political relations to its neighbours in 1990–94 came out (in Hungarian) in 2016. He is an editorial adviser for Hungarian Review.
DAVID MARTIN JONES is a political scientist, writer and commentator. Mr Jones is an Honorary Reader in the School of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Queensland, and Visiting Professor and Teaching Fellow in War Studies at King’s College, University of London. He received his PhD from the London School of Economics, and has taught at the Open University, National University of Singapore, and the University of Tasmania. His works include Political Development in Pacific Asia (1997), The Image of China in Western Social and Political Thought (2001), with N. Khoo and M. L. R. Smith The Rise of China and Asia Pacific Security (Edward Elgar 2013) and with M. L. R. Smith Sacred Violence Political Religion in a Secular Age (Macmillan 2014) and The Political Impossibility of Modern Counter-Insurgency (Columbia 2015).
GYULA KODOLÁNYI (Budapest, 1942), Editor-in-Chief of Hungarian Review and of Magyar Szemle, is the author of thirteen collections of poetry, scholarly and literary essays and poetry translations. He taught English and American Literature at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest in 1970–1989. He received research and teaching fellowships from the British Council, the American Council of Learned Societies, CIES and The German Marshall Fund of the US. He taught at the University of California in Santa Barbara (1984–85) and at Emory University in Atlanta (2004–2009), and read his poetry in English widely in the US. In 1990–94, he served as Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister József Antall. In 2000–2005 he was an Advisor to President Ferenc Mádl. In 2012, he received Hungary’s Middle Cross with the Star and in 2005 the President’s Medal of Honour for his public and literary achievements. With Magyar Szemle, he received a Prima Prize in 2003. In 2015, he was the winner of the Prima Primissima Prize in Literature. In 2016, he received the Hungarian PEN Club’s Janus Pannonius Prize for Poetry Translation.
REINHARD OLT (1952) studied germanistics, history, political sciences, publicism and ethnography in Mainz and Gießen. He graduated in 1980 and worked for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung as an editor (1985–2012) and correspondent in Austria, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia (1994–2012). He held lectures at German, Austrian and Hungarian universities, and is the author of roughly 100 scientific publications. He was a board member of the Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache (Association for the German Language) between 1992 and 2008. He received the Ernest Hemingway Award of the region of Friuli in 1988, the Media Award of BdV Bayern in 1993, the Leopold Kunschak Award in 2003, the Otto von Habsburg Prize of the European Association of Daily Newspapers in Minority and Regional Languages (MIDAS) in 2004 and the Inge Morath Award of Styria in 2008. He was also awarded the Order of the Tyrolean Eagle in 1990, the Gold Medal of Styria in 2004, the Order of Merit of the Autonomous Province of Bozen–Südtirol in 2009, the Award of Excellence of the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2010 and the Grand Order of the Tyrolean Eagle in 2013. He received his honorary degree at Eötvös Loránd University in 2012 and the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art in 2013. He was the first recipient of the Friends of Hungary Award in 2017.
JOHN O’SULLIVAN (Liverpool, 1942) is editor-at-large of National Review in New York where he served as Editor-in-Chief for ten years. He was Special Advisor to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in Downing Street and later assisted her in the writing of her two volumes of memoirs. He has held a wide variety of senior editorial positions in the media on both sides of the Atlantic. He is the founder and co-chairman of the Atlantic Initiative, an international bipartisan organisation dedicated to reinvigorating and expanding the Atlantic community of democracies, launched at the Congress of Prague in May 1996 by President Václav Havel and Lady Thatcher. His book, The President, the Pope, and the Prime Minister (on Pope John Paul II, President Reagan and Prime Minister Thatcher), was published in Hungarian too in 2010. Until 2011, he was the Executive Editor of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty in Prague. Currently he is the President of Danube Institute, Budapest.
NICHOLAS T. PARSONS is a freelance author, translator and editor based in Vienna. A graduate of New College, Oxford, he spent two years in Italy teaching at the British Institute of Florence and as Reader in English at the University of Pisa before returning to the UK to work in publishing for ten years in the 1970s and early 1980s. In 1984 he settled in Central Europe with his Hungarian wife, art historian Ilona Sármány, and has since published some 17 books on cultural topics, writing also as Louis James. These include the Blue Guide Austria and the Blue Guide Vienna as well as the first English guide to Hungary to be published following the “system change” of 1989. His essay-length Xenophobe’s Guide to the Austrians (Louis James) has been in print for 20 years. His recent books are Worth the Detour: A Cultural History of the Guidebook from Pausanias to the Rough Guide, and Vienna: A Cultural History Signet (Oxford University Press; Italian edition: Vienna: Ritratto di una citta, Odoya, Bologna).
SIR GEORGE K. RADDA began his career as a chemistry student in Budapest, Hungary. In 1956 he left the country and arrived in England, where he finished his first class degree at Merton College before going on to complete his PhD in California. He returned to England for a lectureship at Oxford in 1969. In recognition of his pioneering research, which opened up the study of the workings of the living body, Radda was given a chair in 1984 by the British Heart Foundation, a post he still holds. He is also a non-executive Director of British Technology Group (BTG), and Chairman of the National Cancer Research Institute. He was Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Medical Research Council from 1996 until his retirement in 2004. He has also been awarded many distinguished prizes throughout his scientific career. He is an Honorary Member of the American Heart Association. Sir George Radda is the new head of the merged departments of Physiology and Human Anatomy and Genetics at the University of Oxford and Chairman of the Singapore Bioimaging Consortium in Singapore. His main research interests centre on the biochemical basis and cellular functions in heart disease.
DONALD TUSK (Gdańsk, 1957) began studying history in 1976 at the University of Gdańsk, where he got involved in illegal activities against the Communist regime. In the 1980s hecwas an activist in the underground Solidarity movement. In 1980 he founded the Independent Students Association (NZS), part of Solidarity. In 1983 he launched Political Review, a monthly seeking promoted to economic liberalism and democracy. An informal think-tank supporting Lech Wałęsa was centred around the periodical. After the fall of Communism the think-tank members known as the Gdańsk Liberals formed a government following the first free presidential elections in Poland. They also founded the Liberal Democratic Congress, with Tusk as its leader. In the 1990s Tusk served as an MP and deputy Speaker of the Senate. In 2001 he was one of the initiators of the centrist Civic Platform Party, which he led from 2003. Tusk was Prime Minister from 2007 to 2014, making him the longest-serving premier in democratic Poland, and the first to be re-elected. Tusk was elected President of the European Council in 2014, and re-elected for a second term in 2017.