Three Hungarian cities – Debrecen, Gyor and Veszprem – have been shortlisted in the competition for the title of European Capital of Culture 2023. The bid of Szekesfehervar has been rejected, according to the mayor, he was told the clip is “propaganda of the white, Christian Europe”.
Seven cities submitted applications for the title – Debrecen, Eger, Godollo, Gyor, Szekesfehervar, Szombathely and Veszprem -, and according to the European Commission’s website, “the applications were examined by a panel composed of 12 independent experts, ten of which were appointed by the European Union institutions and bodies, and two by the relevant Hungarian authorities”.
At a press conference on Thursday, Szekesfehervar major Andras Cser-Palkovics congratulated the shortlisted cities, but also expressed his shock regarding the committee hearing. The Fidesz politician stressed he urges the whole hearing to be made public.
According to Cser-Palkovics the hearing was “anything but expert”, the members of the committee focused on current political and ideological issues. One of the experts, called their promotional clip “Full of life” the “propaganda video of the white, Christian Europe where every white is happy and dances on the streets”. Cser-Palkovics said according to the experts there weren’t enough poor people and migrants in the video. They also found it problematic that “there were many crosses and churches and that we think it’s a value”. Cser-Palkovics pointed out that the experts didn’t ask about their application, the programmes and investments, they only “made political and ideological accusations”.
“The hearing was European neither in style nor in content, it had nothing to do with the diversity the European Capital fo Culture programme was about in the beginning”,
he added. Cser-Palkovics said that the “white propaganda” accusation came from a “Belgian politician”, whom he didn’t name. The mayor was most probably referring to Alain Hutchinson, Commissioner of the Brussels Government in charge of relations with European & international organisations and Deputy Mayor of Saint Gilles in charge of education, the only Belgian member of the committee. Hutchinson was delegated by the Committee of the Regions, he used to be an MEP of the Belgian Socialist Party (PS).
German political activist Tatjana Festerling started a solidarity campaign on Facebook with the hashtag #jesuisszekesfehervar.
Hungary will host the European Capital of Culture for the second time in 2023, after Pecs in 2010.