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The native form of this personal name is Sólyom László. This article uses the Western name order.
László Sólyom


Incumbent
Assumed office 
5 August 2005
Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány
Gordon Bajnai
Preceded by Ferenc Mádl

Born 3 January 1942 (1942-01-03) (age 68)
Pécs, Hungary
Political party Independent
Spouse(s) Erzsébet Sólyom

László Sólyom (Hungarian pronunciation: [ˈlaːsloː ˈʃoːjom]  ( listen)) (born on January 3, 1942) the President of Hungary, a lawyer, librarian, former judge of and former president of the Constitutional Court of Hungary.

Contents

Biography

He was born in the southern Hungarian city of Pécs. He graduated as a lawyer at the University of Pécs in 1965. He worked as a professor at universities and law institutes in Budapest: at the Eötvös Loránd University from 1983, at Péter Pázmány Catholic University from 1996, and at Andrássy Gyula German Language University of Budapest from 2002. He also worked in Jena, Germany for 3 years.

His political career began as legal advisor for civil and environmental organisations in the late 1980s. As a founder of Danube Circle, he also had a significant role in environmental protection issues like preventing the construction of the Gabčíkovo - Nagymaros Dams which, according to the Danube Circle, would have damaged the habitat of a northern part of the Danube. He was one of the founders of the Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) in 1987, and represented that party in the Opposition Roundtable negotiations that played a very important part in Hungary's transition to parliamentary democracy. In 1989, for a short time he was member of the executive committee of the MDF.

Presidents of the Visegrád Group

However, he left party politics in late 1989, as he was elected into the Constitutional Court of Hungary. He gained the presidency of the court half year later, and held that position until 1998. During this time, the Constitutional Court had a very important role in laying the groundwork for and strengthening democracy in Hungary. In this role, he significantly contributed to the removal of capital punishment, the protection of information rights, the freedom of opinion and of conscience, as well as the constitutional protection of domestic partnerships of homosexuals, which measures brought wide international acclaim for the Constitutional Court of Hungary.

He had a controversial principle of activism based on the invisible constitution, motivating the decisions of the Court by the 'spirit' or 'morals' of the Constitution rather than its explicitly written form, advocating the principle of equal human dignity even over the letters of the constitution.

After the end of his 9-year-long mandate, he continued his scholarly career, continued giving lectures in universities, and became founder of Védegylet, an environmentalist and civil rights non-governmental organisation in 2000. He became corresponding member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 2001.

He is married, has two children and eleven grandchildren.

Presidential election

He was nominated by the environmentalist civil organisation Védegylet, including notable public figures from both the left and the right wing. As the Constitution of Hungary specifies, the President is elected by the Parliament of Hungary, so he had to acquire the support of Parliamentary parties. The opposition parties, Fidesz and MDF, also endorsed him to become President of Hungary. However, if the governing parties had been united in support of the MSZP candidate, Katalin Szili, Sólyom would not have secured enough votes to take the Presidency; but because Szili was not acceptable to the SZDSZ, the smaller party in the governing coalition, they abstained from voting, and Sólyom's election was secured.

The three pillars of the presidency of László Sólyom

  • Maintaining the values of the rule of law in Hungary
  • Expressing distinctive responsibility for the ethnic Hungarian minority groups living abroad in the neighboring countries of Hungary
  • Calling the Hungarian and the international public’s attention to environmental and ecological issues, such as the importance of biodiversity or the risks of climate change

Relevant public events of President László Sólyom

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2005

August 5 László Sólyom was inaugurated in his office at a ceremony in the Mirror Hall of Sándor Palace.

August 20 In his first ceremonial speech he formulated that “Let us be aware that we are a medium sized country among the EU Member States, and we, too, are contributing to shaping whatever is to happen and what could happen in the European Union.” (full text)

December 8 In his toast at the gala-dinner offered by Ivan Ğašparovič, President of the Slovak Republic, László Sólyom underlined that "The peoples' memory keeps the offences through generations and to avoid that these become prejudice and in order to ease them it is necessary to set them ont he agenda to clear comprehensive historical processes and inherences, to eliminate taboo subjects and to show mutual empathy." (full text)

2006

January 27 In his address on the Memorial Day of the Holocaust he said that “The absolute breaking of law that happened is confirming the law not only for the people which suffered of it but for the whole unity of mankind. It makes the prohibition absolute.” (full text)

May 16 At the inaugural session of the new Parliament he started his speech by reminding that “The election campaign is over and now we need to change the style in which we communicate with one another. It is time to look at the facts, make decisions and take responsibility for them.” (full text)

June 22 At the bilateral meeting with George W. Bush the President of the United States of America he mentioned in his introduction that “It is my firm believe that our common responsibility is to fight terrorism but this fight can be successful only if every steps and the measures taken are in line with international law.” (full text)

September 18 After the Prime Minister's scandalous speech (link) became public President László Sólyom stressed in his statement that “The citizens are losing the possibility for responsible decision if the statements, promises and programs made in front of the public are not corresponding to the truth, to the real intentions.” (full text)

September 19 Reacting to the previous night’s event as a group parted from the peaceful demonstrations attacked the building of the Hungarian Television President Sólyom stated that “Let be a consequence for the political forces that the cynical avoidance of basic moral questions is unacceptable and likewise is unacceptable even the hidden justification of acts breaking constitutional borders.” (full text)

October 1 In his Speech on the evening of the 2006 local elections he claimed that “The Parliament decides on the person of the Prime Minister. The Parliament can restore the required social confidence. The key to the solution lies with the parliamentary majority.” (full text)

October 22 In his address of the Republic of Hungary on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the 1956 Revolution and Freedom Fight he said that ”When we celebrate 1956, we must recall and celebrate the elementary and clear joy of being free again, which is what we felt then.” (full text)

November 16 In his speech at the Matthias Bel University of Banská Bystrica where he carried on a dialogue in the frame of a conversation in public with President Ivan Gašparovič and with university students he formulated that “Allow me to love the whole of our country, which in the past used to be common.” (full text, full text in Slovakian)

2007

March 14 In his address at the State Hungarian Opera House of Cluj-Napoca Marking the anniversary of Hungary’s 1848/49 Revolution and War of Independence he underlined that “One in every ten citizens of the European Union lives as a minority in some nation-state. The EU has to manage this issue in harmony with its own basic principles. As Europe unites, the rights of minorities to protection have been growing explosively.” (full text)

May 23 In his address at the presentation of the nominee for minority rights to the leaders of the parliamentary factions he said that “The Roma are exposed the most to the dangers of injustice […], handling their problems requires special knowledge and empathy.” (full text) Ernő Kállai had been elected later as the first ethnic Roma leader of a constitutional institution in Hungary.

September 10 In his address on the first day of the autumn session of Parliament he claimed that “The menace of the radical right lies precisely in its effort to turn differences between people into an ideology and a platform. Since that opposes the basic ideals of human dignity, it is unacceptable.” (full text)

November 8 In his speech at the World Science Forum he claimed that “Globalization only can benefit the world if powerful international environmental governance sets it on a path of sustainability and keeps it there.” (full text)

December 27 In his statement about the return of the bill to the Parliament for reconsideration on health insurance funds and the order of requisition of the compulsory health insurance service in kind he underlined that “I agree that the healthcare system must undergo reform. However, unless people trust and support a reform of this nature, it cannot succeed.” (full text)

2008

March 3 In his address to the plenary session of the Knesset he stressed that “Hungarian politics does not and will not remain silent on matters of racism, xenophobia and the violation of human and minority rights. In its response, however, it strives to retain the broadest possible respect of civil liberties.” (full text)

August 19 In his address at a memorial ceremony marking the fortieth anniversary of the crushing of Prague Spring he said that “An apology is particularly appropriate if the person or body that caused the injury voices its regrets to the victim. However, it also has a place when the blameless heirs make it clear that they are sorry for the deeds of their forebearers and disapprove of them.” (full text)

2009

June 27 In his ceremonious at a memorial meeting to mark the 20th anniversary of the dismantling of the Iron Curtain he stated that “The cut barbed wire fence was an immediate symbol that helped the whole world to understand what was happening here, in the centre of Europe.” (full text)

August 21 President László Sólyom could not hold a speech at the unveiling of a statue of Saint Stephen in Komarno as Slovakian authorities refused the entry of the Hungarian head of state to the territory of the Slovakian Republic. At the ceremony Antal Heizer Hungarian ambassador to Slovakia read the speech of President. (full text, full text in Slovakian)

November 5 In his address to the World Science Forum he said that “Ecological revolution is a term stressed in the book Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update. But, considering the fact that ecological crisis can run hand-in-hand with social disasters and violent conflicts, it is particularly important for the revolution to be a peaceful one.” (full text)

December 2 In his comment on the COP 15 homepage he reminded that “In general, this observed climate change is proceeding at a more rapid pace than anticipated by previous estimates or model projections.” (full text)

Controversies

As president-elect he promised not to visit the U.S, as long as it requires him to be fingerprinted at the border[1].

He refused to shake hands with János Fekete, former vice president of the Hungarian National Bank, while presenting the National Order of Merit of Hungary to him, after the Gyurcsány cabinet forced Fekete's award through[2].

In 2007, he refused to award a similar distinction to Gyula Horn. He referred to the fact that Horn had not changed his views on the 1956 revolution in which he had taken part on the Soviet side, fighting against the Hungarian revolutionaries. This fact is conflicting with the constitutional values of the Republic of Hungary, even though he said Horn was otherwise worthy of the award[3].

In 2009, Sólyom was refused entry to Slovakia to attend the dedication of a statue of King Saint Stephen in the border town of Komárno on August 21[4]. The issue further worsened the tense Hungary–Slovakia relations. Sólyom said that "this is a situation unheard of, inexcusable and unexplainable in the relationship of two allied countries."[5] Slovakia's government containing the ultranationalist SNS party claimed that the Hungarian President's presence is a "threat to national security"[6]. The denial of entry of the Hungarian President was the first such event to have ever happened in the European Union.[7]

References

  1. ^ "Nem akarok szeretett elnökünk lenni", Magyar Hirlap, August 5, 2005
  2. ^ Nem fogott kezet Sólyom és Fekete János, www.origo.hu
  3. ^ Sólyom László megtagadta Horn kitüntetését
  4. ^ Slovakia vs Hungary: Sólyom banned
  5. ^ Slovak-Hungarian Relations Worsen as Hungary's President Barred
  6. ^ "Hungary and Slovakia in war of words as president is barred". international news. Friday, August 21, 2009 - 21:21. http://www.france24.com/en/20090821-hungary-slovakia-war-words-president-barred. Retrieved 26 August 2009. 
  7. ^ Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Ferenc Mádl
President of Hungary
5 August 2005 – Present
Succeeded by
Incumbent
Legal offices
Preceded by
office created
President of the Constitutional Court
1990 – 1998
Succeeded by
János Németh

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