As some of you may already know, I will be moving to Brussels to lead another organization in November.
My departure from Budapest happens with mixed feelings: while I look forward to my new post, the transition happens much earlier than expected. I will miss my current team at FinnAgora, which worked tirelessly to promote understanding and cooperation between Finland and Hungary.
But, as always, new work opportunities are difficult to synchronize. At my age, it was either now or never.
Looking back at my experience in Hungary, I must say that I was a bit unlucky with the circumstances. When I started in February 2021, Hungary was amidst the worst phase of the pandemic, which forced us to organize mainly online events. Once the situation got better in autumn 2021, I had to work increasingly from distance due to family reasons. Finally, I was on personal leave for seven months and came back only in late July.
Despite these unhappy circumstances, the quality and number of events organized by FinnAgora did not suffer. On the contrary, our activities expanded to other cities as well, and we widened the scope of events to many new fields, such as current affairs, EU relations, and cooperation with the civil society and the private sector.
Needless to say, I managed to see only a fraction of Hungary during my stay. On the other hand, it was sufficient to convince me that I should come back at a later stage to visit all the places that I missed and to meet new people.
As a diplomat, I should not comment the internal affairs of Hungary. Let me just say that I sincerely wish that the country will remain an integral part of the European Union. If not, what would be its point of reference? Russia and China are ruthless dictatorships that should be avoided at all costs.
Human rights, rule of law, freedom of the press, transparency in public tenders, and consulting stakeholders whenever preparing new laws are taken for granted all over Europe, as they benefit the whole society. I hope they will remain so also in Hungary.
My departure from Budapest is by no means easy. I will miss its beauty and cultural events, as well as many of the friendships that I made during my stay. Sooner or later, I will be back to learn more about this fascinating country.