|Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme (2nd L Front) hands over the European Union (EU) flag to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (1st L Front) in Budapest, capital of Hungary, Jan. 6, 2011. Hungary officially took over the presidency of the EU at a ceremony in the parliament building on Thursday evening, attended by EU and Hungarian dignitaries. (Xinhua/Attila Volgyi)
BUDAPEST, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) -- Hungary officially took over the presidency of the European Union (EU) at a ceremony in the parliament building on Thursday evening, attended by EU and Hungarian dignitaries.
Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme, as the previous president of the EU, spoke first, emphasizing the Community's joy at the appearance of the nations of new Europe, which included Hungary.
He then spoke about the Lisbon Treaty and Stockholm Program and responsibilities derived from them. Leterme voiced full confidence in Hungary as the new EU president, presenting Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban with the EU banner.
In his speech, Orban pointed out that Belgium had begun to lead the EU out of the economic crisis. Hungary, he said, was undergoing a period of renewal.
He called for advancing the spirit of Europe, which had shown the values of friendship following war and democracy.
According to the government, Hungary's priorities as EU president include spurring economic growth while preserving the European social model, which includes preserving or even improving living conditions for European citizens.
It also plans to encourage the enlargement process, offering the Western Balkans the perspective of integration. Hungary will host the second Eastern Partnership Summit in May 2011.