ECR Group congratulates Prof Ryszard Legutko on winning the Hunyadi János Award

Ryszard Legutko has been awarded the prestigious Hunyadi János Award of the Hungarian Foundation for a Civic Hungary.

Legutko, who is a well-known political thinker, professor of philosophy at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow and co-president of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group in the European Parliament since 2014, has been honoured for his many years of work on preserving Europe’s overarching cultural traditions and the moral principles of Christian culture. The award is a testament to his advocacy for the values of freedom, independence and cooperation between equal European nations, often against the mainstream of European public opinion.

The award was presented by none other than Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who travelled to Brussels for the occasion the day before the upcoming Council meeting.

Upon accepting the accolade, Legutko said:

“The award was given to me for protecting European values and freedom. This statement presupposes that European values and freedom are threatened today, and they need protection. This presupposition is correct. Yes, European values and freedom are threatened today, and they do need protection. At the same time – and it is something of a paradox – few other words have been so often on everyone’s lips and seem so venerated as never before in our history. How is it possible that we live in a world where words such as Europe and European are the highest expressions of praise, and at the same time, anyone with elementary knowledge can see that they are becoming increasingly vacuous.”

He continued:

“Since the EU claims to represent Europe, it also claims to represent European values, for instance, democracy and freedom. The claim implies that whatever the EU does upholds democracy and freedom, and whoever opposes the EU in that respect is restricting democracy and freedom. It is similar to an argument I remember from my young years under the communist regime. The communists then said: since communism is for the good of the people, whoever opposes it is against the good of the people. The flaw in this argument is that whether we have or do not have democracy or freedom does not depend on who is in power but should be assessed according to objective criteria, irrespective of the powers that be. This is a genuine part of European culture, not the only one, unfortunately, that the EU has discarded.”

Before presenting the award to Legutko, Prime Minister Victor Orbán said:

“Professor Legutko was one of the first conservative thinkers to recognise that liberalism operates on a similar principle as communism. And he did not keep this awareness to himself; he created discussion environments from which Fidesz initially drew.

He continued: “The fact that I can stand here today as the Prime Minister of Hungary, representing – besides my government – a political organisation, as well as a party that was established in the late eighties and that fought against the communists effectively, stems intellectually from the fact that we managed to understand the secret of the Poles, we managed to understand the logic of resistance, the logic of organisation, the unity of philosophy and action, thought and deed, which Professor Legutko best symbolises for all of us.”

In conclusion, Prime Minister Orbán said: “Sovereignists once sent communists to the dustbin of history, and they will do the same with liberalism.”

Legutko’s fellow ECR co-president, Nicola Procaccini, congratulated Legutko on X (formerly Twitter), saying:

“I congratulate my fellow co-president and friend, Professor Ryszard Legutko, on receiving the Hunyadi János Award. Ryszard is a real fighter in the ongoing struggle to preserve our European traditions and cultures. He is a veteran in the battle against excessive wokeism, against the undermining of European nations by left-wing mainstream opportunism, and against mindless political correctness. He fearlessly stands as a steward of the true European values of freedom, diversity, and mutual respect between sovereign nations.”

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