At the Conference in Szigetvár, Hungary, under the title ”The Opportunities to further develop our national memorial sites along the Hungarian – Croatian border,” politicians, diplomats, researchers and experts on regional development exchanged their views on strengthening the cult of Zrínyi concerning several countries, and the events and programs connected with the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Mohács in 1526.
The following dignitaries participated – among others – in the work of the Conference: Dr. Tibor Navracsics, Minister for Regional Development and the use of the resources of the EU, Gábor Mayer, State Secretary responsible for regional development and H.E Gülsen Karanis-Eksioglu, the Ambassador of the Republic of Türkiye to Hungary. H.E. Ambassador János Hóvári, the Executive Head of the Representation Office of the Organization of Turkic States in Budapest, also made remarks.
The lectures delivered at the Conference focused on the meeting points of the history of Hungary, Croatia and Türkiye, the role of the Zrínyis that reached over the current borders, as well the opportunities for tourism. The speakers also exchanged their views on the initiative which is connected with the strengthening and the recognition of the spiritual heritage of the cult of Zrínyi which goes back 450 years and expands to several countries.
In his remarks Professor Norbert Pap emphasized that a program will be called into being which will be – for the time being – named „The Zrínyis link us together.” This project would include the memory of Zrínyi and the traditions that are by now part of folklore, and may as well develop cultural routes and the sector of tourism across the border by preserving our common cultural heritage and strengthening our national and local identity.
During the event, Mustafa Aydogdu, the Director of the Yunus Emre Institute in Budapest spoke about the plans for the Hungarian–Turkish Memorial Year. The series of cultural events to be held in 2024, the year of the 100th anniversary officially establishing diplomatic relations between Hungary and Turkey, offers great opportunities to deepen the cooperation between the two countries. As Director Aydogdu said, they are planning about a hundred cultural, scientific and other programs in Türkiye. Anita Hegyi, the Head of the Department for Hungarian Cultural Institutes Abroad in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade added: Hungary will also undertake a hundred programs. The preparations have been going on with full steam so that we could have a very successful Memorial Year with Türkiye.
“The heritage of the Zrínyis begins at the Adriatic and extends as far as the Sea of Marmara,” summed up his remarks János Hóvári. The Ambassador offered a review of the process of the political and diplomatic cooperation between Hungary and Turkey which began in 1867 and has been going on ever since. This cooperation includes reconciliation between Hungary and Turkey, the exploration and taking care of the historical memorial sites, their operating as tourists sites. This most significant episode of this process has been the inauguration of the Memorial Park of Hungarian – Turkish friendship that opened in Szigetvár in September 1994. János Hóvári stressed that the Hungarians and the Turks had been fighting each other for 300 years but for the past 300 years we have been living in peace and friendship. “Today, we are allies and partners, since both of our countries are members of NATO, and Hungary has – as observer – joined the Organization of Turkic States (OTS).” János Hóvári also added that unique reconciliation has been achieved between the Hungarians and the Turks, while Szigetvár has become a peculiar and significant symbol of the history of the two peoples.
The speakers at the Conference also covered the future opportunities to develop the region of Baranya County. Besides this, they also discussed the new programs for development over the Hungarian – Croatian border in the years 2021–2027, some of which may concern of economic and cultural relations between Hungary and Türkiye.