By Neda Maretić

Croatian Minister of Culture and Media, Ms. Nina Obuljen Koržinek Ph.D. conducted an official visit to Budapest at the invitation of the Hungarian Minister of Culture and Innovation, Mr. János Csák.

During their meeting at the premises of the Museum of Fine Arts, the Cultural Cooperation Program between the two ministries was signed on 20 November 2023, marking the end of the previous agreement. The comprehensive document on cooperation between the two countries is designed for the period 2023-2026 and covers in detail a wide range of aspects of cooperation in all areas of culture and art, as well as co-production and exchange of projects. In addition, joint projects and cooperation between Croatia and Hungary were also discussed.

The Croatian delegation led by Minister Obuljen Koržinek included Croatian Ambassador to Hungary H.E. Mladen Andrlić, First Secretary at the Embassy of the Republic of Croatia in Hungary Ms. Marina Sikora, Director of the Directorate for International Cultural Cooperation and European Affairs Ms. Anja Jelavić, Head of Service in the same administration Iva Mostarčić. The Hungarian delegation under the leadership of Minister Csák comprised the Hungarian Ambassador to Croatia H.E. Csaba Demcsák, Deputy State Secretary Csaba Gábor, Director of the Liszt Institute, Hungarian Cultural Centre in Zagreb Ana Mladenović, and Head of the International Department of the Ministry of Culture and Innovation Krisztian Vagner.

“We often meet in format of the ministers of culture at European meetings, today was an opportunity to support the projects we are planning for the next period through a bilateral discussion. These are exchanges of guest performances by national theatres, and we hope that the large retrospective exhibition dedicated to Ivan Meštrović, the eminent sculptor (on the occasion of the artist’s 140th birth anniversary), opening in the Galleries Klovićevi dvori in Zagreb, will also be a guest in Budapest next year as planned. We have also agreed on greater investment in literary works’ translations. In Croatia we have an audience that follows and appreciates Hungarian authors, and we want to invest more in translations of Croatian authors into Hungarian” – pointed out Minister Obuljen Koržinek. She added that special attention is paid to programs that encourage the activities of minorities, Croatians in Hungary and Hungarians in Croatia. “We talked about cooperation in the field of cultural heritage and of course what the foundation is, that is what connects us most, that is the status of the Croatian minority in Hungary, the Hungarians in Croatia, I always emphasize the special importance of our Croatian Theatre in Pécs and I believe that the good cooperation in the field of culture should be continued” – Obuljen Koržinek concluded.

The Hungarian Minister of Culture and Innovation, János Csák, thanked his Croatian counterpart for the excellent cooperation. “I am satisfied with this meeting because, as you know, Minister Koržinek is an excellent expert, not only in the cultural, but also in the historical field and its development. We talked about our situation in this fragile world we live in and where we really have to value friendships. In 2022, we celebrated 800 years of coexistence between Hungarians and Croatians, bound by hundreds of years of shared history. Culture, along with economy and trade, is one of the best ways to strengthen our relations” – he emphasized. “This is a responsibility and opportunity that our two countries can offer within the European Union, as well as on a global level regarding the problems of migration, culture, etc. Our responsibility is to develop culture in Croatia and Hungary and to exchange our wealth. The contract we sign covers the projects we can offer and exchange. We have already contracted several programs, we are fortunate that the Croatian Institute in Hungary and the Hungarian Institute in Zagreb have excellent cooperation and work together with the embassies, which is very significant. By concluding, I can say that I expect our programs to be presented as soon as possible and I look forward to my visit to Zagreb and meeting with my dear friend Minister Koržinek” – said Minister Csák.

As part of the cultural exchange, the Croatian Academic Choir Ivan Goran Kovačić with its 80 members will come to Budapest on 6 December and give a concert in St. Stephen’s Basilica, and before Christmas, the Hungarian Radio Children’s Choir will perform in Zagreb.

Visiting Croatian educational institutions in Budapest:

Minister Obuljen Koržinek also visited the Croatian kindergarten, primary school, gymnasium (high school) and student dormitory HOŠIG in Budapest, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary. The students of the school prepared a cultural and artistic program, which included poems, song performances and folk dances by the “Tamburica” group.

“It was very moving to see the program and participate in it” – said Obuljen Koržinek, thanking the students.

In her speech, school principal Ana Gojtan expressed her gratitude to the minister for her visit to HOŠIG. This year is special because HOŠIG is celebrating 30 years of work, and marking the anniversary within the framework of the most important manifestation of Croatian Culture Week.

“We are celebrating our 30th anniversary, but our institution has a history of more than 80 years, as it is the legal successor of the former Croatian-Serbian school. Our school is a prominent educational institution as well as a cultural and educational centre of the Croatian national minority in Hungary” – said Ana Gojtan. “Our fundamental task is to preserve the Croatian language and culture, strengthen Croatian self-awareness at all levels of our institution, strengthen ties with our motherland and expand our ties. Our mission is to build cultural bridges between the youth of Croatia and Hungary. Our cultural and artistic, popular and scientific educational programs as well as meetings of Croatian and Hungarian young people serve this purpose. And among them is the project of the HOŠIG literary and dance stage as a sign of 800 years of joint Croatian-Hungarian history. On this stage, but also on theatre boards all over Croatia from Zagreb, Osijek, Split, Pazin, Zadar, Dubrovnik, King Zvonimir, Zrinski, Bishop Ivan Antunović, Dora Pejačević, Croatian writers came to life, that is how we learned about them and how they taught us. Thus, through the school games, the mission of building bridges that points to the common destiny of thetwo countries grew and found great resonance in both countries” – concluded the director of the school.

Cooperation between Croatia and Hungary in a common Europe is based on shared values. The Minister’s visit to Budapest ended with a viewing of an exhibition of the great French Master of Impressionism, Pierre Auguste Renoir, hosting by the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest

Source: Embassy of Croatia in Budapest