29 September to 5 October 2019
During the Field Trip 2019, the Körber Network Foreign Policy visited Hungary and Slovakia. In regard to Körber-Stiftung’s focus topic “The Value of Europe” the aim of this journey was to learn more about our European neighbours and to understand current political and ideological cleavages in debates among members of the European Union.
The first stop of our journey was Budapest where the members of the Körber Network Foreign Policy met with Hungarian politicians, such as Dr. Csaba Hende, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr. Judit Varga, Minister of Justice, Dr. Gergely Gulyás, Minister of the Prime Minister’s Office, and Miklos Hajnal, Spokesman of the opposition party Momentum. At the meetings they discussed domestic and international politics, economical aspects, as well as Hungary’s relations with the EU, and its understandings of democracy and the rule of law.
Additionally, the group met with representatives from academia, media and civil society. With Professor Michael Ignatieff, President and Dean of the Central European University, Dr. Márta Pardavi, Co-Chair of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee and journalist Márton Gergely, they spoke about the repercussions of shutting down important academia centres and the role of media and civil society.
From Budapest the group travelled to Szeged, the third-largest city of Hungary, and at that time the only major city with a mayor from an opposition party to Fidesz. Discussions with members of the local government provided interesting perspectives of the political opposition’s work. The trip also included a visit of the Szeged Synagogue, the fourth largest synagogue in the world.
The participants continued their trip upwards the Danube River to Bratislava. In meetings with the Deputy Slovak Plenipotentiary for Romani Communities, with Peter Bátor, Head of Security Policy Division of the President, and Peter Bárdy, Editor-in-Chief of “Aktuality.sk”, topics such as the political and economic development of Slovakia, the 2020 parliamentary elections, minority politics, its relations with the European Union, and the murder of the journalist Ján Kuciak were discussed.
The programme concluded with a last stop in Vienna, where the group talked to Professor Paul Lendvai, publicist and author.
Photos: Körber-Stiftung; Ministry of Justice Hungary/Márk Oláh