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Schriftenreihe des Europa Institutes Budapest, Band 12:147–148.

Hungary at the turn of the Millennium


Today Europe and the entire world are facing new challenges. The information revolution is more than merely an industrial-technological revolution; it is also a cultural revolution. With the invention of a new generation of microchips – in the early 1970’s – a new age has begun in the history of mankind and the culture of interhuman relations has been fundamentally altered. These changes have an impact on production, on social life, on the relations between individuals and states. With the acceleration of the process of globalization, every single local workplace is becoming part of the world-wide competition. The knowledge-radius of individuals is constantly expanding, people are capable of reviewing events happening in various parts of the world in seconds through travelling or telecommunications.

The continents (Europe among them), the national and state communities (including those of the Hungarians) and individuals (including ourselves as intellectuals), are facing new challenges. We must consider the new global processes, we must reconsider our new possibilities in the division of labor, and we must decide for ourselves what we really want to achieve. We are facing an imperative situation; together with the peoples of the continent – as well with the peoples of other cultures – we must determine what we should do.

Who should explore the alternatives becoming available for the continent, for the communities of individual nation states? The answer is: the intellectuals must do it! Above all, scholars and entrepreneurs should perform this task. We, scholars, are true cosmopolitan citizens – after all, our workshop is the entire globe – and we are also “patriots”, since we are also members of a given local and national culture. We are not thinking in terms of four-year electoral cycles as the political elites do; rather, our thinking is centered on humanity, the nation, the cultures of the world. These facts provide ample reason for intellectuals to attempt to ascertain the possibilities opening currently, and find the ”breakout points” for their respective communities.

In September 1996 as the new President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, I suggested, that the members of the Academy create a National Strategic Research Program. Let us have the Academy become the advisor to the nation!

The research program started under the title, “Hungary at the Turn of Millennium.” We raised certain questions, such as ”What direction is the world taking, and what is our position in this process?” “What sort of conditions will we have to face as a member of the European Union?” What can we, Hungarians, expect in general from the Eastern enlargement of the European Union in areas such as agriculture and food production, information transmission, the maintenance and protection of the ecosystem? How about NATO and strategic defense water management, the maintenance of bio-diversity, energy resources and the politics of energy conservation? What about the future of the languages of small nations, health care social policies, the information revolution and the coming information society, etc.? Fourteen large projects were started and had been completed between 1997 and 2000. In each case, the result was the publication of monographs dealing with the respective issues.

The Europe Institute Budapest decided to participate in the dissemination of these new Hungarian research findings in foreign languages. The Europe Intsitute, as the strongest civil organisation in the field of European studies wishes to act as a mediator between Hungarian and European intellectual ventures and strategies.

Volume 6 of “Begegnungen” (1998) had already issued a programmatic study entitled ”Hungary at the Turn of the Millennium” (”Begegnungen,” Budapest, 1998, vol. 6, pp. 9-30). Upcoming volumes of “Begegnungen” will include studies prepared within the framework of this Strategic Research Programme (selected in consultation with the Advisory Council of the Programme) in English and German languages.