The Hungarian Diplomacy Day is, first of all, a day of remembrance and gratitude. Expressing gratitude to all those who represent the interests of our country in any and all areas of international relations to the best of their knowledge and abilities. But who really are diplomats? Everyone, all of us are diplomats, in the broadest sense of the term. All those who serve the interests of this country and this nation at the place and in the job they are, and work on improving our country’s reputation. The scope of diplomats may not, therefore, be restricted to ambassadors and other professional diplomats because serving the country is the responsibility and duty of all of us.

What is, indeed, diplomacy? If you look at the recently published Lexicon of Diplomacy, there are quite complicated definitions; that diplomacy, on the one hand, refers to an institution, on the other hand, to the work performed by that body. But there is a more simple definition. This is nothing more than relationships with the world, relations with various countries, organisations and, above all, with people. Its main aims are peace, security, trust, friendship with the world, always and first and foremost in the interest of the state and the nation of Hungarians.

By no means is it a coincidence that the Hungarian Diplomacy Day falls on the day of the 1335 Meeting of Kings in Visegrád. Its most important message is that the aim of a foreign policy is above all to strengthen the existing relationships with neighbours, as neighbours are always those who we must count on for help when there is trouble, and therefore we have to live in friendship and trust with the neighbours. This is so even if it has not always been the most successful part of our history. But diplomacy aims precisely to dissolve or resolve any tensions in the region and to promote prosperity and cooperation in the area that serves as our home.

That is why we chose the day that provides the historical basis for the current Visegrád Group, and also indicates that Hungarian foreign policy regarding the Central European cooperation is not only the most successful, but also the most important area.

We returned to Europe, and here we stay. As we say, Europe is our home and Hungary is our motherland. At the same time, we are part of the Western world the values of which are our own values, while we are also open to the whole world. Above all, we preserve our national identity, but we link it to the Central European and European identity. We believe in the European values and way of life, and we are committed to preserve and to protect these values. We believe in people’s dignity, freedom, equality and responsibility, as it was discovered by Christian theology more than 1,000 years ago. We believe in liberty, equality and fraternity and we are convinced that European civilisation has to recognize and enforce all these values today as well as in the future. Our belonging to Europe and the Western world makes it possible to open up to the rest of the world. We must never forget that one can only build a bridge between bridgeheads, and we are not the bridge, but the bridgehead. A fine example of our opening to the world is that we have created a scholarship system, Stipendium Hungaricum, that allows a lot of young people to understand, appreciate and like Hungary.

So what is Europe? Where are the borders of civilisation, and where to place the civilisation boundary between Europe and Asia? There is no doubt that there are many similarities, but the differences are also significant. The place of the Hungarians is in Europe, and this is so despite the fact that we came from the east.

Hungarian diplomats have a hard and complex job. It is not simply to represent a state, Hungary, but also the Hungarian nation as a whole. History has brought it about that, in our case, the nation and the borders of the state do not coincide, and we must never forget that, for us, as Hungarians, this is a commitment that not one Hungarian government, Hungarian political party, diplomat or Hungarian person can forget. The interests of the Hungarian government and the Hungarian nation must never be in conflict with each other; we must never forget that the interests of the whole Hungarian national community must be represented. It is via the national identity, the sense of attachement to the nation that leads us to being European, and it is the European Identity that brings us to the universal community, which is expressed in the most beautiful way by the Hungarian word emberiség (humankind).

Dear students, certainly many of you are taken up with the idea of becoming a diplomat. I hope it will become a reality for many of you. Build up a strong theoretical foundation and develop the practical skills, as this will contribute to the success of Hungary, the Hungarian nation, our region and all of Europe. So we shall live in peace, security and friendship, not only with our neighbours, but also with the entire world.

(Letter addressed by former Minister of Foreign Affairs János Martonyi to the audience celebrating the Day of Diplomacy at the National University of Public Service on 19 November 2019.)

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