Letter from Árpád Schilling (Krétakör)

Arpad Schilling's wife reading the letter on 15 March 2016. Photo by Xander Remkes.

Arpad Schilling's wife reading the letter on 15 March 2016. Photo by Xander Remkes.

Your Royal Highnesses, Excellencies, , members of the jury, and my fellow laureates, Dear guests of the ECF Princess Margriet Award for Culture 2016,

This Award has given back my faith that European culture still exists and that it is based on solidarity. The ECF Princess Margriet Award recognises the very meaning of the Krétakör Foundation and through this Award ECF brings joy to many people - to everyone who has collaborated with us and to those who we have worked for. I would have been so proud to be standing before you all today to accept it.

But today is Hungary’s National Holiday and more importantly it is a day on which many civil society organisations in Hungary are joining forces in a demonstration, which originated among high school teachers who are appealing to  the government to change its education policies. But it is not limited to education alone; the movement has gained momentum and is widely supported across society. The "Tanítanék / I would teach” Facebook group and movement itself has more than 900 educational institutions and more than 30.000 individuals supporting it on line.

The organisers sought me out and asked me to create and direct the dramaturgy of this demonstration: what it will be about, who will speak, what the message will be. It’s an important task and one that I feel compelled to fulfil.

The demonstrators ask for the support of society. The event will be live on TV and tens of thousands are expected to participate, because there is a lot at stake.

So on March 15th I must be in Budapest, in front of the Parliament, instead of in Amsterdam, in front of you. There is only one reason why I feel no remorse and that is because I know I am acting in accordance with the spirit of the ECF Princess Margriet Award for Culture. When I asked myself the question: where do I have to be? In a wonderful city, in a fantastic theatre where hundreds of people are celebrating our Foundation or in an equally wonderful city, where I am living, and where hundreds of thousands of teachers and citizens feel that that it’s time to make their stand for the country, in front of the Parliament? Immediately, my heart gave me the answer.

I am grateful to ECF because you bring Europe’s attention to what’s going on in Hungary. You let us tell you Our story. Through this, you give a voice to the Hungarian citizens who declare themselves citizens of the European Union and who wish to live in a real democracy. Thank you for this. And finally, thank you to the dozen representatives of the Krétakör Foundation who are accepting the Award in Amsterdam and bringing my message to you.

Arpad Schilling
15 March 2016