Budapest, October 12 (MTI) – Parliamentary Speaker Laszlo Kover on Monday paid tribute to the late Arpad Goncz, Hungary’s first post-communist president between 1990 and 2000, ahead of a plenary session of parliament.
The life path of Arpad Goncz coincided with major events in Hungary’s 20th century history, Kover said. In his tribute, the House speaker quoted the late Ferenc Madl, Goncz’s successor, as saying that Goncz “made the country and all of our lives richer and more complete”.
Kover said Goncz would be remembered “even if we only knew his works as a writer and literary translator,” adding however that Goncz “was loved and respected as a politician as well, and even long after he had left office”.
Kover said Goncz played a key role in shaping historical events, standing up against both fascism and communism. He noted that Goncz was jailed after the failed 1956 uprising against Soviet rule but was released on an amnesty in 1963. While in prison, he learned English and went on to become a literary translator after his release.
Goncz became active again in politics in the latter half of the 1980s and was a founding member of the liberal Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ). In May 1990, he was elected a member of parliament and soon became its Speaker. The two dominant parties in parliament, the Hungarian Democratic Forum and his own SZDSZ elected him to a full five-year term as president. IN 1995 he was reelected for another term.
Parliament observed a minute of silence in his honour.
Goncz died on October 6 at the age of 93.