Prime Ministry Cultural Commissioner Géza Szőcs

Government Commissioner Géza Szőcs.

Government Commissioner Géza Szőcs.

Géza Szőcs has served as prime ministerial cultural commissioner in the since June 2012. Previously was state secretary in charge of culture at the Human Resources Ministry beginning after Prime Minister Viktor Orbán returned to power in 2010.

Biography

Born in Marosvásárhely (Târgu Mureș), Romania, in 1953 to Hungarian parents. Published his first volume of poetry, Te mentél át a vízen? (Did You Go across the Water?) through the Kriterion Publishing House in Bucharest in 1975.

Received degree from the Hungarian-Russian Department at the Babeş-Bolyai University in Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca), Romania, in 1978. Worked as a journalist at the Kolozsvár-based Hungarian-language daily newspaper Igazság from 1977-1981. Studied at University of Vienna on a Herder Scholarship in 1979-1980.

After returning to Romania from Austria, served as one of the editors of the samizdat pro-democracy periodical Ellenpontok [Counterpoints]. During this period, the  Securitate communist political-police arrested Szőcs on several occasions and the Ceauşescu government placed him on a blacklist making it difficult for him to find employment.

In 1986, Szőcs went into exile in Switzerland, where he worked as a freelance journalist in Geneva. At the time of the System Change moved from Switzerland to Hungary, where he served as director of Radio Free Europe’s Budapest office in 1989 and 1990.

Returned to Romania in 1990 to continue his work as a journalist and editor. Became an official in the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania (RMDSZ) political party. Served as RMDSZ representative in the Senate, the upper house of Romania’s bicameral legislature, in 1990-1992. Withdrew from politics in 1993 after coming into conflict with other officials within the RMDSZ.

Resumed work as editor and journalist after breaking with RMDSZ, spending an increasing amount of time living in Hungary beginning in the 2000s. First mentions his having obtained Hungarian citizenship in 2002.

Began working with Fidesz when Viktor Orbán asked him to help formulate Fidesz’s cultural strategy in 2009 (source in Hungarian).

Unilaterally selected the controversial design for Hungary’s pavilion at the Expo 15 world’s fair in Milan, Italy (see In its Own Image).

Turns 62 years old in 2016.

Notable Quotes

“Difficult times are afoot in Europe. Phantoms are moving about in our little homeland as well, haunting about in the minds, on the fields and in the studies. As the number of souls within the nation decreases, the number of troubles and enemies increases—there are more and more of them per capita.”  June 12, 2012, in his letter of resignation from his post as state secretary in charge of culture at the Human Resources Ministry (source in Hungarian).

Last updated: June 15, 2016.

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