September 24, 2022

In her speech to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, Hungarian President Katalin Novak complained that “war is raging again on the European continent” thanks to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

She said stopping the war should be the UN’s “most urgent priority” but seemed pessimistic that the relevant diplomatic operations were up to the task.

Novak said she admires the recently deceased Queen Elizabeth II of England, quoting her twice at length. She said that the Queen’s life was “imbued with service to peace” and said that world leaders “owe it to the people and their memory to make our decisions in the same spirit”.

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Queen Elizabeth II prepares to greet President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev at Buckingham Palace on November 4, 2015 in London, England. (Chris Jackson – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Novak noted that she herself is a wife, mother of three children and the first female president of a country that suffered under “45 years of communist dictatorship”, so she felt a natural sympathy for the queen’s disapproval of wars of conquest.

“We have learned that war is evil and leads nowhere,” she said.

“Russia’s war against Ukraine is a constant threat and security risk, not only for Ukrainians living in the war zone, but for all of us,” the Hungarian president said.

“Hungary strongly condemns the Russian aggression in Ukraine, which destroyed the peace in Europe,” she said.

Valentyna Kondratieva, 75, walks into her damaged house Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022, where she sustained injuries in a Russian missile attack last night in Kramatorsk, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine. (David Goldman/AP)

Novak called for a full investigation of alleged war crimes against the civilian population in the “strongest possible terms”, promising that “no crime committed can go unpunished”.

Novak’s brief remarks had a melancholy, quietly cynical tone, as she described peace and justice as the highest goals, but set low expectations for the United Nations to meet them.

Novak noted that the UN is currently monitoring 27 conflicts around the world, and “currently there is not a single conflict that is described as ‘improving'”.

“Organizations established to avoid war and preserve peace focus on ideological indoctrination. That is not necessary today,” she said.

“Instead, we must regain our ability to distinguish between the essential and the irrelevant, the important and the unimportant, reality and fiction,” she said.

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