Katalin Novák: People are surprised to see me at the grocery store, so I ask them, "why, how did you think we get dinner on the table?"

September 14. 2023. – 09:33 AM



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Prior to the 5th Demographic Summit, the former Fidesz politician-turned-president gave a long interview to Mandiner, so it is not surprising that the conversation started off with the subject of family and children.

Katalin Novák, the mother and wife

Katalin Novák said that

  • her children have processed what her position entails, but otherwise they live their lives as before. For example, her oldest goes to university, but it is not known at school who their mother is, and her younger children have bus passes and take public transportation to school.
  • she believes that boundaries and security are the most important things in raising children, but adds: “I don't like to paint a rosy picture of our family or our marriage, because there are tensions and conflicts in our family too. But we don't argue about parenting principles in front of the children. We are allies. It's like diplomacy: we discuss what we disagree on behind closed doors, but outwardly, in this case before our children, we present a united front.”
  • when necessary, her husband attends official events, but it's not something he seeks out. "Family to me is like a charger for a phone. Even if I come home tired, we spend the evening talking and being together, and this allows me to head into the tasks of the next day recharged."
  • "There is no perfect time to have a baby." (...) “When it comes to encouraging young people to start a family, we must be sincere in saying that while being a mother is a beautiful task, it is often exhausting to the point of it being unbearable.”
  • “It was hard for me to believe that it would be possible for me to go back to work. All I knew was that there's a time limit on having children. Such is biology. It's like having two sets of tracks: one for family life and one for your career. The former is a reliable fast train which at one point pulls out of the station and if you miss it, you can't get back on. On the other track, however, trains depart often, and here you can catch either a passenger train or a fast train later.”
  • “When I went back to work for four hours a day between my first two children, I was constantly in doubt, tormented by guilt. I felt I was neither a good enough mother nor a good enough employee.”

Katalin Novák, the housewife

  • "I try to do my shopping discreetly, but sometimes it's quite difficult to go unnoticed. I have gotten used to people recognizing me and politely greeting me, but then everyone continues their shopping. Sometimes they approach me, and a few photos are taken. They are surprised to see me at the grocery store, so I ask them: “Why, how did you think we get dinner on the table?" Although I am the President, I’m also a mother, a wife and a housewife."

Katalin Novák, President of the Republic

  • "The state is able to help reduce the financial obstacles to starting a family and to ensure that those who have children are not worse off than those who did not want to start a family. This kind of help is welcomed by the majority. By now, Hungary has become an example followed by many," she said of starting a family.
  • On Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, she said he was "certainly an earnest person" and added that since her visit to Ukraine, they have already used the direct presidential communication channel which has been recently set up. “The Ukrainian President has said that he is ready to provide the members of the Hungarian minority in Transcarpathia with the same rights the members of the Ukrainian minority in Hungary receive. This may not sound very good at first, but is in fact a good basis for negotiations. Hungary is known to be generous with its national minorities (...) The Ukrainian President is certainly an earnest man, and if he said something, he meant it. This is what I consider the starting point, and I look forward to seeing it put into practice. Therefore, let us trust that what has been happening in Mukachevo is not in line with his intentions and that we can remedy the problems as soon as possible. This is certainly what I expect from him.”
  • President Novák invited Elon Musk to the Demographic Summit as well. On whether she thought he would come, she said: "He has the reputation of being a spontaneous person, so he might even fly in with his spaceship. He is certainly welcome."
  • She said that Sweden's accession to NATO would strengthen the defence alliance, so it would be "better if the decision in its favour was taken as soon as possible". “And naturally, I understand that policy makers don't like the disrespectful way prominent Swedish politicians have spoken about our country. As allies, we have to respect each other, and that is something we haven't received from them. Even so, I firmly believe that we must support Sweden's accession to NATO. I almost said that we shouldn't be hampering it – but we know that it's not Hungary that is hampering it.”

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