Official visit of the Hungarian President Sólyom
The national anthems in the Order’s Magistral Villa in Rome, a brief stop on the terrace to admire the view and a long and cordial conservation touching on both past and present. The official visit of the President of the Republic of Hungary László Sólyom, accompanied by his wife, to the Grand Master of the Order of Malta Fra’ Andrew Bertie has strengthened ancient bonds. The present is represented by the Hungarian Association with its ambulance corps “Magyar Máltai Szeretetszolgálat” and their activities in favour of the elderly and the homeless, their medical units and other organisations for helping families and children, social services and advisory activities. There are 580 employees and 6000 volunteers. The Grand Master thanked the Hungarian Government for the strong and heartfelt support given to the humanitarian activities carried out in Hungary since the resumption, in 1990, of those bilateral diplomatic relations which had been established in 1925.
The meeting also focused on the 50th anniversary of the insurrection which broke out in Budapest in 1956. “The sacrifice of the heroes of 1956,” the Grand Master said, “was not in vain: they were and will always be an example to the future generations of Hungary. Their fight has represented and will represent, also in the years to come, an engagement to struggle against whatever could jeopardize the liberty and destiny of a nation”.
To commemorate these dramatic times the President was given a copy of the Official Bulletin of the Order issued in May 1957, when the Lieutenant of the Grand Master called all members of the Order to give assistance to Hungarian and Polish families. László Sólyom, Head of State since August 2005, recalled the presence and commitment of Andrew Bertie, one of the young members of the Order of Malta assisting refugees and freedom fighters on the Austro-Hungarian border at that time, and awarded the Grand Master with a medal in recognition of this undertaking.