Hungary’s freedom was successfully restored thirty years ago, the prime minister’s chief of staff said on Saturday, handing over state awards usually awarded on the March 15 national holiday, postponed due to the coronavirus epidemic.
Despite the crushing of the anti-Soviet revolution of 1956, Hungarians never gave up hopes for a free and independent country, Gergely Gulyás said. The 1989-1990 change in political system was the only exception to historic turning points of the 20th century which all involved loss and sacrifice, he said.
Freedom in the past thirty years enabled the fulfillment of many national aspirations, he added, citing as an example the expansion in the number of Hungarians to 11 million compared with 10 million some 11 years ago, thanks to the government’s decision to award citizenship to Hungarians in neighbouring countries.
Justice minister: ‘Wiser Europe’ needed, not “more Europe”
Instead of more Europe, “we want a wiser Europe”, Justice Minister Judit Varga said on Saturday, adding that “to us, unity in diversity means the harmony of sovereign states.”
Addressing a conference marking Hungarian Independence Day, Varga said “we want a Europe where EU law is not used as an ideological weapon and where political frustration does not overpower the principles of the treaties.”
“A series of belated and ill-fated European responses to the challenges of the 21st century have made it clear that integration has lost its response capability, and pragmatic cooperation has turned into a platform for ideological disputes,” she said.
Varga said Europe was ruled by mainstream calling itself “progressive and liberal” which strove for a united states of Europe, “a Europe supporting multiculturalism, welcoming migration and rejecting the traditional family model as well as the continent’s cultural religious heritage.”
Mária Schmidt, government commissioner of the “Free for 30 years” memorial year said at the event that neither the West, nor the European Union had fulfilled the hopes of Hungarians, adding that “we idealised them and set unrealistic expectations of them”.
“By now, we’ve learnt to see them for what they are. We have removed our rose-tinted glasses and now we negotiate with them by representing Hungarian interests,” Schmidt, who is also the director of the House of Terror Museum, said. “It is a promising development that Hungarian interests increasingly coincide with the interests of our region,” she added.
Featured photo by Péter Komka/MTI