“We are commemorating the 110th anniversary of Otto von Habsburg’s birth, and on this occasion, we are opening this exhibition on the life of our namesake not only in Budapest but also in several European capitals”, Gergely Prőhle, director of the Otto von Habsburg Foundation said in his welcoming speech, which he later affirmed in an interview with MTI. The Foundation chose Zagreb as the first foreign stop of the ‘Otto von Habsburg was born 110 years ago’ event series because the fate of Croatia was particularly close to the heart of the former heir to the throne.
The Foundation’s Director was delighted that the Croatian Foreign Minister had graced the event with his presence. He added that they were pleased that many people who knew Otto von Habsburg in Croatia had come to speak on this occasion too. The importance of the event was also reflected by the presence of sixteen, mainly European, Heads of Foreign Affairs, who attended the opening ceremony.
The significance of Otto von Habsburg lies not only in his affiliation to the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, nor in the fact that he was the last heir to the Hungarian throne, but rather that he has done a lot to bring down the Iron Curtain as a Member of the European Parliament. He represented a vision of Europe, an ideal of Europe in which the voice of small nations is heard, recalled Gergely Prőhle. His life’s work, marked by goals and deeds interpreted in the context of world politics, is still relevant because national sovereignty and the European idea – despite all political attempts to ignore this fact – are indeed compatible. “This is Otto von Habsburg’s message for today’s Europe”, stressed the Foundation’s Director.
Csaba Demcsák, the Hungarian Ambassador of Zagreb, was the first to praise the historical and political legacy of Otto von Habsburg. The audience listened to a presentation by the museum and scientific adviser Ivan Mirnik, as well as Vanja Vinković, the director of the documentary about the former heir to the throne, a short excerpt of the film was also shown at the event.
The exhibition was officially opened by Gordan Grlić Radman, Croatian Minister for Foreign and European Affairs. In his speech, in which he addressed the audience several times in Hungarian, he stressed that ” Otto von Habsburg was a politician, a polyglot, a visionary, a Christian, a family man, but above all a friend of Croatia. (…) As a true advocate of the idea of European unity, a citizen of Austria, Germany, Hungary and Croatia, he often stressed that he felt most at home in Croatia and Hungary. This exhibition shows that Otto von Habsburg is still a very significant link in the amicable relations between Croatians and Hungarians,” said Grlić Radman in his welcoming remark.
The exhibition will be on display at the Liszt Institute Hungarian Cultural Centre in Zagreb until 31 October.