A monument to 15th century strategist and politician John Hunyadi was inaugurated in Zemun (Zimony) outside Belgrade, in a ceremony attended by the presidents of Hungary and Serbia, on Monday.
János Áder, the Hungarian president, highlighted Hunyadi’s victory in the 1456 Battle of Belgrade as the beginning of an era of peace and reconstruction. Hunyadi dedicated his whole life to protecting the homeland from the Ottoman Empire, he said, adding that for 65 years afterwards the Ottomans did not even attempt to capture Belgrade.
The bells of Christian churches in Europe rung at midday “have reminded all Europeans for 563 years of the courage, heroism, sacrifice and faith of the defenders of Belgrade”, Áder said in his address.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic noted that Hunyadi, called Janko Sibinjanin in Serbia, is revered in both countries. “Hunyadi’s dream has come true: Serbs and Hungarians are now fighting together, for shared goals,” Vucic said, adding that “I am glad when I see the Serbian and Hungarian flags flying together; both are ours, and it will always be so.”
Vucic said the two countries’ leaders had “managed to build unprecedentedly good ties on a basis of relatively bad relations over the course of a few years” and voiced his gratitude to Áder, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, and ethnic Hungarian VMSZ party leader István Pásztor, who had “helped build a bridge between Serbs and Hungarians”.
The monument was erected where Hunyadi’s troops had arrived on the River Danube before the famous battle.
Hunyadi, who was also Regent of Hungary between 1446-1453 and father to the later King Matthias, died in Zemun in a plague epidemic that broke out after the Belgrade victory on July 22, 1456.