The central state budget has set aside almost 100 billion forints (€290 million) to refurbish the central Hungarian town of Veszprém by the time it assumes its role as a European Capital of Culture in 2023, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in his regular weekly interview on the national Kossuth Rádió on Friday.
“In 2023 Veszprém will be the European Capital of Culture, so it can’t be dirty [or] battered; we must show it in all its beauty,” Orbán said. “Not everything in our country is brand new, neither is Veszprém, the city of [Queen] Gisela. It doesn’t matter that it is old and threadbare, but it must be dignified, generous, and display a feel and aesthetic that can be found nowhere else.”
Veszprém, just north of Hungary’s popular holiday resort of Lake Balaton, is one of the country’s oldest urban centers. It was designated the first episcopal seat of the newly Christian Hungary in the year 1009, and the queens of Hungary were crowned by the bishop of Veszprém for centuries. It was also home to one of the first universities in Hungary.
Orbán said the Veszprém project will be coordinated by Tibor Navracsics, who was his Deputy Prime Minister from 2010 to 2014 and European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sports between 2014 and 2019.
Asked about the coronavirus pandemic, Orbán said that while it was a near-impossible task to figure out the “jungle of Hungarian workforce statistics,” his best estimate was that some 30,000 people of the total 4.5 million have lost their jobs due to the economic slump brought about by the restrictions, but the government has “made good on its promise” to create as many jobs as were lost due to the pandemic.
He also advised Hungarians to spend their holidays in the country if possible; but should they decide to go abroad, they should choose the “green countries,” referring to Hungary’s red-yellow-green classification of countries based on coronavirus hazards introduced earlier this month.
Referring to an extended ban on public concerts, Orbán also said the government will set up a 5-billion-forint fund to assist musicians who are unable to perform and, hence, unable to make a living, with another 800 million forints earmarked for the country’s popular Gypsy musicians. He added that the Hungarian economy will come out of the pandemic in better shape than it was before.
“Next year, we will probably come out of the pandemic crisis in better shape than when we entered it, thanks to [the fact] that we have supported various investments by changing regulations and also extremely large amounts of money,” Orbán said.
Title image: The Veszprém Castle. (source: Csendesmark, Wikimedia Commons)