Speech by Professor Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament Pécs 2010 European Capital of Culture
Dear Deutsch Tamas,
Dear Pava Zsolt,
I am delighted to be able to open this exhibit in the European Parliament which celebrates Pécs as one of Europe's Capitals of Culture.
The city has always had a strong cultural and artistic tradition. The university, which is the oldest in Hungary, is the only institution outside the capital that offers training in music and visual arts - even at the doctoral level.
This proud tradition explains some of the art exposed here today.
I am delighted that we can see the works of twelve contemporary artists from Pécs. These paintings and statues give us a taste of the 30 art festivals, numerous concerts, theater and dance performances which will be hosted in the city throughout the year.
It is important because for many years, art and culture from Central and Eastern Europe could not be displayed, either in our own countries because of censorship, or abroad because of the iron curtain.
We are now a reunited continent, not just in politics and economics but also in art and culture which is at the core of what makes us all Europeans.
Art helps us see each other the way we see ourselves. It helps us discover that there is far more which unites us, than divides us.
But Pécs is also important as a city because of its geography.
It was always a border city, first as a Roman settlement, then as a German, Turkish and Hungarian town. Always at the border of various cultures and traditions.
Today, Pécs sees' itself as a "borderless city", very much in the heart of Europe but also open as a cultural door to our Southern neighbours in the Balkans. Neighbours such as Croatia who will be joining our European Union soon.
The poet László Bertók once asked about his city: "Can you sense all who once lived here? Do you believe that in the year 5000 Pécs will still be?"
I think we can safely say - Yes! it will be!.