It is eighteen years since Hungary joined the European Union. Thousands of people celebrated the anniversary on Sunday, May 8 with the Europe Day festival on Szabadság (‘Liberty’) Square, which included free family and children's activities, exciting concerts and an 18-kilometer obstacle-free running race.
The festival kicked off with the “18 years - 18 kms - EU Run", a barrier-free city center run that also showcased EU investments. As is traditional every year, the distance symbolized 18 years of EU accession. The distance could be covered in relay teams of three, each running six kilometers. This year, nearly three thousand people took part in the sporting event.
Following the race, the event was opened by MEP Tamás Deutsch, Deputy State Secretary for EU Relations at the Ministry of Justice, Boglárka Bólya and the Head of the European Commission Representation in Hungary, Gábor Zupkó.
According to Tamás Deutsch, "we, Central Europeans created the preconditions for the existence of a united Europe when we won our freedom more than thirty years ago. Now, when Europe has so many problems, we can send a message from Budapest to our European friends that they can count on us to solve them. Just as freedom did not simply come to us, but we won it, so the EU's problems will not solve themselves. It will take hard work to put Europe back on the successful path of many decades ago."
Boglárka Bólya was of the view that over the past 18 years, Hungary has been an active and important member of the Community in all respects. “Together, we have weathered the global economic crisis, we are fighting together to contain the coronavirus and together, we are on the same side in the fight for peace. How important Europe is to us Hungarians is also shown by the fact that there have been some 800 events in Hungary as part of the series of conferences on the future of Europe, and we are the first among the Member States to have organized such a series. While the conference series is now coming to an end, the European Year of Youth has just started, so it is important to maintain the dialogue between citizens, young people and the EU."
Gábor Zupkó said he was “delighted that we are celebrating the birthday of the European Union together, commemorating its founding and the coming of age of Hungary's membership of the European Union. We are also celebrating that we belong to a community of values, a community of interests, which has had countless positive effects in Hungary, from EU developments across the country to the benefits we experience in our personal lives, such as the freedom to work and study in EU member states, the Erasmus program and a host of other well-known opportunities."
The Europe Day festival offered entertainment for children and families with the Kaláka band, the AdniJoga children's yoga group, Fruzsina Kovácsovics and the Ákom-bákom puppet group. Fans of popular music could enjoy a concert by Mrs Columbo, The Biebers and – to close the event – Kiscsillag (‘Little star’), as well as an interactive raffle and EU information.
This year, the festival's themes included a special focus on solidarity with Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees, with several refugee support organizations presenting their work and Ukrainian artists performing on stage. Another important theme of the event was the European Year of Youth 2022, the thematic year of the European Union. In the afternoon, interested visitors had the opportunity to talk to MEP István Ujhelyi at the Europe Point tent, where he gave away Interrail tickets as a gift.
The Europe Day events were organized by the European Commission’s Representation in Hungary and the European Parliament Liaison Office in Hungary.
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