We are very pleased that Hungary is the country to be featured at the fifty-first Frankfurt Book Fair. We are pleased to have the opportunity of presenting ourselves. We are pleased - and yet we also see it as a challenge, since for a whole week - and we hope it will last longer than a week - everyone will be concentrating on Hungary. Or, to be more precise, on what we can contribute to the Fair. More than 10,000 books, music and fine art, films, photographs, theatre and dance.

It really is a unique challenge, for this is the first time that my country has had a chance to make a cultural presentation on such a large scale. To show that Hungary has been a country for the last thousand years; that for the last thousand years it has been part of European civilisation. Following so many countries of struggle, it looks as if now - in 1999 - we will have every opportunity to be Europeans in Hungary and Hungarians in Europe.

We would like to present you here with a culture based on its own traditions, yet a culture which has something to say to the present, and a culture - we hope - which will lead to the future.

It is a happy chance that Hungary is being specially featured at the Book Fair this year, the year in which the whole world is celebrating the 250th anniversary of Goethe's birth. Goethe recognised the need to construct a common international literary culture transcending national boundaries, a culture for which he coined the term "world literature". Our visit to Goethe's own city is our tribute to the birth of this "poet prince" and gives us an opportunity of presenting the culture of Hungary.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is now ten years since the Iron Curtain came to an end. And, along with the intoxication which freedom brings, these ten years have also provided us with many challenges. The public in Frankfurt will be able to form a picture of these, too: you can be eyewitnesses to the birth of a new Hungarian culture, a culture not created as a front against communism, not characterised by political opposition. The last ten years have brought a new emphasis to Hungarian culture. The completely new situation with which we have been faced has raised new questions and the answers to these - or the attempt to find such answers - has opened a new, exciting period in the literary and cultural life of our country.

For this reason it is the intention of our presentation to broaden somewhat the often clichéd ideas which people have about us.

The phrase "Hungary unbounded" is meant to symbolise the many-sidedness of Hungarian culture. Tradition and renewal, pathos and irony, Hungary on this side and that side of the border, its various different groups and various different generations, its forums of non-conformity and different directions in style. A small country in the heart of Europe, with rich, interesting, colourful culture which - we hope - you will find interesting.

To conclude, please allow me to thank all those who have helped to make it possible for Hungary to take part in the Frankfurt Book Fair. Unfortunately at this juncture I cannot list all those - both Germans and Hungarians - who, in spite of all obstacles, have worked together to set up this hall. I know that behind every name there is a team; nevertheless, I would like to mention just a few names to whom I am indebted: I would like to thank István Ferencz, Professor at the Academy of Applied Art, who has designed this exhibition; József Kovács, the graphic artist who has produced the signs; the sculptors Tamás Somogyi, Gábor Veres and Péter Márkus; the Bauding company, with its Managing Director, Tamás Pete, as well as other companies; Prof. Árpád Bernáth, Managing Director, Head of the German Philology Department at JATE Szeged University Tamásné Faragó, Deputy Director of the Frankfurt 99 Kht; Dr Katalin Budai, senior literary adviser, who has been in charge of the authors and translators; and Katalin Balogh, Programme Director of Frankfurt 99 Kht, who has filled the Fair and Exhibition Centre with books and programmes.

An equal task has fallen to those who have constructed the Hungarian stand: the architect, Dezső Ekler; Mahir GmbH, under the management of its Exhibition Director, Andrea Horgos; the Programme Director, Dezső Szabó; and all the 94 publishing houses, who have brought their books to Frankfurt. I would like to express my thanks to you all.

Everything I have mentioned could only have been achieved with the help of the German organisers, with whom our young office manager, László Borbás has been in constant contact.

I hope that Peter Weidhaas - to whom we owe our particular thanks - will be well satisfied with the fruits of his directorial work this year - the work on which he has been engaged since the Seventies, that of developing the international relations of the Hungarian book world, I do hope that Hungary can be a worthy co-organiser of this fair, and we should like to thank him for everything he has done during the run up to the Fair. Behind him stand all his staff, but would particularly like to mention the work of Rosmarie Rauter and the activities of Dr. Rüdiger Wischenbart, who has ensured that the international press has shown great interest in the preparation of the Hungarian contribution.

And, last but not least, I would like to thank all our authors and Translators!

I hereby open the Hungarian exhibition in the hope that as visitors, those who enjoy books and culture, will enjoy this exhibition - thus once again providing Hungarian culture with a new opportunity to present itself in Europe and to make a contribution to our joint success.

Thank you for your attention.

Frankfurt, 11 October 1999.



Frankfurt '99 Non-profit Organisation,
Budapest 1054 Báthori u. 10.
Fax: +(36) 1 269 20 53
E-mail: frankfurt_99.kht@mail.matav.hu