Meeting her Portuguese counterpart in Lisbon on Thursday, President Katalin Novák told journalists that the war in Ukraine, demographic issues, and the strengthening of national defence and voluntary reservists were the focus of her talks. Novák invited the Portuguese president to join the Alliance of Family-friendly Presidents.
At a joint press conference with Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, Novák said she and de Sousa were in agreement regarding the war and they both condemned Putin’s aggression and took a stand for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Hungarian president said the goal was to achieve peace, a ceasefire and peace negotiations as soon as possible. She also drew attention to the situation of the 150,000-strong ethnic Hungarian minority living in Transcarpathia and the curbing of their rights, which, she added, was a matter than must be brought up time and again.
Novák noted that her Lisbon call was her first official state visit, and Portugal and Hungary were friends and allies. The president noted the Portugal bestowed on her its highest honour for foreigners, the Order of Prince Henry Grand Collar.
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Meanwhile, Novák said the demographic crisis affected the whole of western Europe, and Hungary’s government had been working to reduce population loss for about ten years. In future, Portuguese and Hungarian experts will be able to share their experiences, she said, adding that she would invite the Portuguese president to the Alliance of Family-friendly Presidents, as well as the Budapest Demography Summit in September.
She also noted that the 50th anniversary of ties between the two countries will be celebrated next year, and she has invited the Portuguese president to visit Hungary. Novák mentioned the issue of national defence as the third topic, noting that there are 200,000 voluntary reservists in Portugal, which sets an example to Hungary. A recruitment campaign has been launched in Hungary to increase the number of reservists and to strengthen national defence, she added. Answering a question, Novák said the greatest significance of the Bucharest Nine Summit in Warsaw was that the participating countries had been able to demonstate their strength through unity and their alliance.
De Sousa said that Portugal and Hungary share several points on connection, such as NATO, the UN and the European Union, as well as the Arraiolos group. He noted that the latter was initiated by a Portuguese president, and will celebrate its 20th anniversary in October. Among the topics of discussion, de Sousa hihglighted the Ukraine war and the situation of the Transcarpathian Hungarians as well as demographic and economic issues. He called for a forward-looking, socially just Europe. Novák also met Portuguese Deputy Prime Minister Mariana Vieira da Silva on Thursday. On Friday, she will meet Portugese Speaker of Parliament Augusto Santos Silva, then address members of the Lisbon City Council, and receive the key to the city of Lisbon from Lisbon Mayor Carlos Moedas.
“The war has been raging for a year and the end is not in sight,” President Katalin Novák said in a video message on Twitter on Friday, marking the first anniversary of the outbreak of the war. Novák said that, as a mother, it was “heart-rending to see the victims, families torn apart, a destroyed future, and despair”. The president said Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty unquestionable, while she also called for war criminals to be prosecuted. “We Hungarians wish for there to be a path towards an equitable peace agreement,” Novák said. Novák’s video was among similar messages by the presidents and leaders of other countries.