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Interview with H.E.Mrs.Judith Lang, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Hungary
09 September 2011
H.E.Mrs.Judith Lang
 photos by Georgi Yordanov
Your Excellency, please share with the readers of ADIS Magazine some of your most memorable impressions of Bulgaria?
The very first impression was when I arrived by plane and it was raining. My driver told me: Madam, rain brings you luck! And at first I didn’t understand because in our traditions we don’t have such kind of big strength with water. However I‘ve already learned that you pour water in everything to bring luck and success. So it was very unusual but at the same time very nice experience for me. Afterwards it was the second one – Bulgarian people I’ve met were very open and friendly and it’s still lasting. I have very good partners and co-operations with all Bulgarian institutions and friends as well.
Have you found a place or destination here in Bulgaria that you became especially fond of?
In Sofia I like since I have the privilege to live near Vitosha and I admire this healthy habit of the Sofians that all the weekends they spend in the mountains. Everybody seems like a big family so I enjoy it very much. After a busy week it’s very nice to go up to the mountain, to have a walk, to look and admire your beautiful nature and the panorama of the town as well. Meanwhile when you are walking, people passing by are greeting you like you would be a big family. I must say it’s an interesting feeling.
This is mainly in Sofia. Otherwise most probably because Hungary is a plain country and we have a lot of SPAs and mineral waters, but we don’t have fantastic mountains which bring richness to Bulgaria so I love to be in the mountains, especially in Rodope and Stara planina in spring time. And I love the sea as well. Sea is very relaxing for me. '

At the Ambassador's Residence
photos by Georgi Yordanov

Which is your preferred Bulgarian dish or wine?
Bulgaria is a perfect place for me because I’m fond of salads and your cuisine is full of salads. It’s also a very interesting experience when I arrived in Bulgaria in 2008 the first program in the countryside was opening of a Victor Vasarelly exhibition, a world famous painter with Hungarian origin. I was taken in the evening to a very nice sea coast fish restaurant and first we got, let’s say, 20 salads so it was some kind of a salad orgy. Another experience was the difference in eating habits. We eat fast which is not good. It was very nice that the Bulgarian people enjoyed the evening and each other’s company, having nice conversations for long hours.
When it comes to wines our countries are competitors, because Hungary has also very nice wines. I must say you could be proud, the Bulgarian wines are worth to be experienced.
Your Excellency, is there a typical Hungarian object or character that accompanies you during your mandates?
If you look around the residence you’ll see a lot of very interesting sculptures, a little bit rustic. These are made by a Hungarian artist – Margit Kovacs. She was focusing primarily on the life of women and various types of ladies. I admire her for what she was doing. There is a very nice museum of hers near Budapest in Szentendre and I highly recommend to every Bulgarian who is interested in Hungary to visit it. It’s really fantastic. These figures of girls are very simple and naive but still show that they are Hungarian. So this is what decorates my living room and when I’m here and look at these figures I feel I’m at home. The paintings here mostly from the countryside also remind a bit of the different areas of Hungary. Also I’m very proud of our china. Hungary is here!
Is there any personality or event who/which has strongly affected your character?
Let me start with my family – it was my father. Every girl has much more stronger ties with her father. Because he was strong, with high moral and ethics and taught me that NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE so this is my motto.
From professional point of view I would say that there were colleagues by the time I was a journalist, who taught me to be more analytical and look behind the things. This helped me in the diplomacy a great extent because it brought me some additional qualities that made me brave to tell my own opinion and brave to take decisions.
Your Excellency, which side of your character has been of greatest help to your career?
As I’ve stated before - NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE though it’s a challenge certain issues to be solved. And I think in diplomacy one of the basic tasks of a diplomat is to find ways to get closer two countries, or compromises if that is needed. This kind of principle is very helpful not to give up.

H.E.Mrs.Judith Lang
 photos by Georgi Yordanov

 In regards to Club Diplomacy and Business (CDB) that was established in 2009 and you serve as one of the founders do you thing that there should be another approach to diplomacy as such initiatives?
I’m sure that it is a very good initiative. I appreciate H.E. Mr. Inkiriwang for his efforts because we are tending to act separately - the diplomats and politics and the business itself. The two groups run for different directions but don’t exclude each other. That’s why I think it’s wonderful because we are able to discuss issues in different spheres and combine them with various activities such as sports, entertainment, cultural events etc. So we can do plenty of things together and I hope we could accelerate this activity.
Some weeks ago I initiated a Lady Ambassadors’ Club and I think that it will be a very interesting initiative. Perhaps we’ll start mostly with professional discussions, have some social events and exchange our views on the developments here in Bulgaria. This can also be basis of some more organized way to meet interesting Bulgarian people, especially ladies, because I’m convinced that ladies are very successful in politics, business and other spheres of social life and we can enjoy the benefits of such meetings.

At the Ambassador's Residence
photos by Georgi Yordanov

Is Bulgaria seen as a place of interest for the Hungarian investors?
I’m happy that Hungary keeps 9th place in the foreign investors list, although it’s very hard. Our bilateral trade is at 850-860 mln. euros. After I came in 2008 the recession started and not only because in Hungary the crisis was quite big and people were trying to save their businesses at home, but most probably due to some negative signs they were couscous to invest. When you face bureaucracy, corruption or too lengthy administrative processes you become discouraged by them. This was concerning Hungary in a very small extent but had an effect. Now in my view the government is doing a lot to change this business climate and the people are coming back so this is a very good sign. As you know we are small country – the size of Bulgaria so I hope in the near future to come more and more. Of course I must say that mostly small and medium sized companies are coming but attractive businesses are already here – financial sector, IT, green energy etc.

At the Ambassador's Residence
photos by Georgi Yordanov

On January 1st, Hungary has taken the EU Presidency under Strong Europe with a Human Touch motto. Please, outline some of the major priorities of the Hungarian Presidency during that period.
I think it’s a very good motto because lately Europe was engaged with internal disputes, even fight for dominance among bigger member countries. That’s somehow we forgot about the human factor and the fact that Europe is for its citizens and it should serve them.
Otherwise we set up the priorities in four big groups, very expressing ones, showing the major goals, which are on the first hand – solving our financial and economic problems – a very ambitious goal. There was a very important political consensus made on the six legislative rules which might be adopted. So now the discussions are going on. The Euro Plus Pact is also an achievement.
There are also big priorities and goals concerning the EU enlargement not only towards the Western Balkans, particularly Croatia which is performing quite well but also I strongly believe and hope that if they fulfill their duties in a speedy manner they will be able to finalize their accession talks by the end of our Presidency. So it will be very good encouragement for the whole region.
Then I will mention the enlargement of the Schengen area which we are very much committed to get Bulgaria and Romania in. We have been supporters from the very start. I hope that we’ll find solutions and by the end of June to create a political consensus and to draw some kind of road map so that by the end of the year you could be in Schengen.
I won’t speak in details about many other fields we’ve partly succeeded and we are going on – the unified pattern which started during the Spanish and Belgian period, or the energy issues…In February was held a very successful summit and we all agreed on creating a single energy market till 2014 so this can be considered as a big result. Also we gain commitment among the member states to create energy net – each country to have at least two sources of energy. I think that such consensus is crucial. This is a huge result for the Hungarian Presidency.
Next is the Danube Strategy that the General Affairs Council approved and is essential to Bulgaria as well. It means that we are keeping the time table of the Presidency Program. The Danube Strategy and the Action Plan will be approved by the June 2011 meeting of the European Council.
Last but not least is the European framework for the national Roma strategies which is very significant in my view. This is a big task as Europe is suffering from different problems related to poverty, joblessness and other social issues of the socially weaker groups. And it’s related more and more with the Roma population. I must say that if you look around all member states have some kind of problems with the Roma issue. That’s why we are very much committed to create some kind of coordinated framework of setting programs for Roma inclusion. Education, job creation, housing and health care are very important. You might say that I’m a dreamer that in 1 or 2 years we’ll succeed, but no – it takes many years to do so. And we should start from a very early age to teach tolerance towards each other.
Can you find any common features between the Bulgarian and the people of Hungary?
When I first came to Bulgaria, as I’ve said previously, my initial invitation was from Sozopol and then came from Sliven. When I entered the municipality I met the mayor and a very interesting young man – the protocolist of the municipality who was very much attracted to Hungary and Hungarian people. He was historian by education and I had a very interesting discussion with him because he was convinced that Hungarians and Bulgarians were relatives. Later on more Bulgarians I met during my course of work confirmed that fact. Obviously our relations started at very early historic stage when our two people met and we have impact on each other. It’s a curious fact that in Hungarian language we have 300 Bulgarian words. We are very close in way of perceiving things or certain habits. I really like to be here and especially the Bulgarian people who are very open and we easily find language to each other.
Would you like to send a brief message to the Bulgarian people?
Let’s keep this path – to find way and language to each other because we belong to the common family of European countries and this is a good basis to accelerate the bilateral relationship. It’s essential to preserve Europe!
 This interview is produced solely to ADIS Magazine. No part of this interview may be reproduced in any other way without prior written consent of ADIS Real Estate.
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