2014. 01. 28.
Opening remarks by Kinga Gál MEP:
"If I tell someone I come from Hungary, then the first reaction is that "Oh, Budapest is a beautiful city!". Yes, it is indeed, but it is not the one and only famous city, a country should not be identified only with its capital. Our second largest city is Debrecen. The aim of this current exhibition is to give visibility to this great city and to pin it on the European map.
The city of Debrecen is near and dear to my heart. One of the reasons for this is that my favourite writer, Magda Szabó was born there and the actions of many of her novels also take place in her beloved hometown. Once she said that the city had three faces: one of them looks into the past, the second one faces the present and the third explores the future. I would like to talk shortly about these three faces of the city.
The first one that is looking to the past, places the city on the map of Hungary as one of its most important cultural and religious citadels that also served in certain periods as the capital of the country. It has been the cradle of the Hungarian intellectuality for centuries. Its 400 years old Reformed College was the Alma Mater of uncountable Hungarian writers, scientists, politicians and other famous personalities. Magda Szabó says that "Debrecen during the best parts of its history determined the will of the whole nation and the common way ahead."However, if we look into the past we also see that Debrecen was facing great difficulties after "loosing" its periphery: those smaller towns and regions in close connection with the city were cut, became part of another country.
Personally, if I look into the past, the early ages of my life, then I recall Debrecen as the symbol of freedom. It was indeed in the mind of a Hungarian child grown up on the other side of the border under the Romanian Ceauşescu regime in the city called Oradea (Nagyvárad in Hungarian). I remember how we "looked up" at Debrecen, a city that was barely 70 km away from us and still seemed to be so far, seemed to belong to another, different world.
But, let's look at thepresent now. Renovated buildings, a new image of the city, brand new museums, sport facilities and cultural centres characterise Debrecen. The city has renewed, the downtown has been rehabilitated, and the whole city reinvented itself as an important regional centre, a modern, green and culturally vivid European city. The benefits of the European Union, the free movement of persons and goods, the borderless Schengen area have given back the city what was taken away from it previously. The cross-border cooperation in the region is outstanding. Also by using European funds it was possible to rebuild the sparkling of the city. Debrecen has become an internationally recognized scientific hub that attracts students from various countries and regions – just as it did in old times building a stronger future generation.
While preparing for these opening remarks I found out that the name of Debrecen derives from the Turkish word "debresin" which means "live" or "move". I think it is true indeed that the city of Debrecen that is put on display today in the European Parliament is a liveable, vital, advancing city. It is a city of the future.
Let me finish with the words of Magda Szabó, the idea that I began with: "Debrecen is turning its triple face towards me, greets me. One of them glances at the past, the other one of them faces me and the third one looks ahead exploring the future. I take on all of them – but none of them without the other two". I really hope that this exhibition will bring this city closer to all of us and will inspire you all to explore it personally.
Thank you for your attention!"