The meeting between the President of the Republic of Hungary, Janos Áder, and the Order of Malta’s Grand Chancellor, Albrecht Boeselager, took place today in a climate of great cordiality. The encounter, the latest in a series of official exchanges, occurs on the thirtieth anniversary of the re-establishment of diplomatic relations, precisely in 1990. The meeting was thus an opportunity to confirm the excellent relations that over the years have created numerous Order of Malta and Hungarian Republic joint projects in the social-healthcare and humanitarian sectors for disadvantaged communities and individuals.
One example is the recent signature of a Memorandum of Understanding in Budapest last October to develop programmes for the protection of ethnic and religious minorities in the Middle East, Africa and other crisis regions. A memorandum that goes to join the agreement signed in 2010 for humanitarian aid initiatives.
During today’s meeting, President Janos Áder recalled the important role played in Hungary by the Order of Malta’s association – established in 1928 – and its relief corps (MMSz), active since 1989. “Your relief corps is one of the best in eastern Europe,” said the Hungarian head of state. Currently MMSZ – of which the President’s wife Anita Herczegh, also present at today’s encounter, is “Goodwill Ambassador” – is one of the major health and welfare agencies in the country, where it manages 350 units, with a staff of 5000 and 15,000 volunteers. It also has 142 groups operating nationwide. Its main areas of action are assistance to the disabled and the elderly, the distribution of meals to the homeless, projects for students from disadvantaged families, support for the Roma community and all the vulnerable minorities, including those million Hungarians who live outside their country.
The cooperation between the Order of Malta and Hungary also covers international projects for assisting victims of conflicts, such as the one in Syria. The major humanitarian emergencies and the migration phenomenon were discussed during today’s meeting.
Besides the thirty years of diplomatic relations, this year we also celebrate the eightieth birthday of Padre Imre Kozma, founder of the Hungarian Relief Corps, who on the eve of the fall of the Berlin Wall organised assistance for some 50 thousand refugees from East Berlin.