Hungarian president János Áder awarded Romanian historian Lucian Boia with the Knight’s Cross of the Hungarian Order of Merit for his exceptional historical work and his contribution to improving Hungarian-Romanian relations on Tuesday.
Boia was handed the award at the Hungarian Embassy in Bucharest by Ambassador Botond Zákonyi.
The 75-year-old Boia has enjoyed a long and eminent career revisiting and reinterpreting many of Romanian history’s cardinal concepts, creating a new school of history but also stirring opposition from Romanian nationalists.
“I wrote the history as I believed it to be in an honest manner, striving for interpretations that avoided various ideologies and radical nationalism which has caused so much harm. This is my work. It would be nice if I could change the world, but alas, I have no such powers,” Boia said while summing up his work at the ceremony.
Asked about Romanian-Hungarian relations, Boia said that the solutions to past grievances should not be sought in the past but in the future, adding that in a couple of generations 19th-century nationalistic debates will appear very curious. He said he believes in an increasingly unified European Union without borders.
“After all, we are all Europeans, we are alike, and our problems are also much more similar to one another’s than those of other continents,” Boia said.
In 1993, Boia established the Center for the History of the Imaginary within the History Department of the Bucharest University. The Center’s research focus is on historical and political mythology as well as national and political identity.
Title image: Romanian historian Lucian Boia (L) receives the Hungarian Order of Merit from ambassador Botond Zákonyi (R). (MTI/Ildikó Baranyi)