An exhibition of the life of Árpád Göncz, the first President of the Republic after the regime change, was opened on Thursday in the City Hall Park in Budapest on the occasion that he would be 100 years old today.
Speaking at the opening, Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony said that "Árpád Göncz knew us like a relative. He knew all the sorrows and sorrows of this country and shared in its few joys. He knew them all because he lived them all."
He added that Árpád Göncz "was there, he was at the forefront, when the country was filled with hope and when it was filled with bitterness. When it was necessary to resist and when it was necessary to bear the burden of oppression".
The Mayor said that the memory of Árpád Göncz has been stumbling into Hungarian reality ever since, because from today's perspective it is almost unthinkable that a man like him could have been the President of this country.
"From today's perspective, it is almost fabulous that there can be authority that has nothing to do with pomposity, that dignity lies in directness," Gergely Karácsony pointed out, and then went on to say that "we perhaps no longer believe that there was a time when honest words had a place in public discourse, that a politician can have faith and principles, not just interests. And honesty, unquestionable honesty; not a veneer, not a pose, not a reference point, but a credibility undercut by a lifetime of experience."
He stressed that Árpád Göncz had set an example of how not to get lost in the labyrinths of democracy. "He did not say: follow me! He said: come with me. He was one of us, so we became one with him, with him, we became one. One Hungary, one republic, where democrats and Hungarians, Europeans and patriots are not divided."
The exhibition is open until 12 March.
Árpád Göncz, writer and literary translator, was born on February 10, 1922; he was President of the Republic between 1990 and 2000. He died on October 6, 2015, in the 94th year of his life.
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