According to the decree issued by President of the Republic János Áder, the award was bestowed on Mr. Fekete “for his outstandingly rich life’s work in art and an active involvement in the cultural public sphere spanning several decades, and in recognition of his committed work as President of the Hungarian Academy of Arts serving to enrich Hungary’s cultural life”.
Before presenting Mr. Fekete with the award, the Prime Minister saluted him as “a dedicated and proven warrior of Hungarian culture, an artist, a cultural policymaker, and the developer and guardian of the MMA”.
In his laudation the Prime Minister said that “György Fekete has performed not one life’s work, but two: in 1994 he retired following a full career as an artist and cultural policymaker, but then went on to be first a Member of Parliament and Chairman of the KDNP; and over the past six years he has constructed Hungary’s most important cultural institution, the Hungarian Academy of Arts”.
According to Mr. Orbán, Mr. Fekete is one of those people who attempt to make visible the unique soul of Hungarian culture. “Without maintaining and experiencing this spirit, we could lose everything that makes Europe European and which makes Hungary Hungarian”, he warned.
The Prime Minister emphasised that culture is the arena in which we strive to preserve our national identity, and György Fekete is a “true veteran” in this arena. “Throughout his whole career, in both his art and his service in cultural administration, the recently retired President of the MMA has worked – and continues to work – to preserve the spirit of Hungarian culture”, Mr. Orbán said.
Part of this service, the Prime Minister explained, involved the following: Mr. Fekete “learning how to live outside socialism, while existing within socialism”; the establishment of the National Cultural Fund while he was a state secretary in the Antall government; and, in recent years, the development of the “foremost institute of Hungarian culture”, the MMA, “in perfect harmony with how Imre Makovecz imagined it”.
After receiving the award, Mr. Fekete thanked the Government and the Prime Minister for accepting him as a partner in the establishment of the MMA six years ago. Speaking of his time at the helm of the Hungarian Academy of Arts, the public body’s outgoing president said: “At such an age few artists receive the greatest task of their lives: a task that is greater than creating their own life’s work.”