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“Hungarians’ Thirst For Freedom Cannot Be Denied” – Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s October 23 Speech In Full

By Tamás Székely // 2017.10.27.

Below, we are sharing the full text of Hungarian Prime Minister’s speech delivered at House of Terror Museum in Budapest on 23 October 2017. In his national holiday speech, Viktor Orbán not only remembered the heroes of Hungary’s anti-Soviet uprising in 1956 but also drew parallel between the times of the revolution and today’s political tensions in Europe. The summary of the speech can be found here.

photo: Tamás Kovács – MTI

“I greet Hungarians bowing their heads in honour of the heroes of the 1956 Revolution and Freedom Fight. I greet you all, wherever you are in the world, from Toronto to Paris to Dunaszerdahely, from Munkács to Szabadka, and all the way to Szeklerland. I greet those celebrating in the nation’s capital, and also those who join us in front of their screens at home. I greet those who appreciate that we Hungarians, the people of freedom, are a special nation of freedom. Whatever may come – rain, biting winds, tear gas or mounted police charges – we gather nonetheless. Because, wherever in the world we live, we want to remember: worthily and justly. We want to remember that wonderful day in October when an entire people said “Enough!”, and the pillars supporting the communist regime started to shake. We want to remember a moment which will always live in the memory of the free nations of the world.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A motherland is a natural and spiritual reality. Soviet rule, however, pushed us into a space without history, and sought to destroy both our past and our culture. The strongest weapon against physical and mental terror is national remembrance. This is why today we came here, of all places. The building we see here was the headquarters of the Arrow Cross, and later the centre for communist party state terror. This building was a nest first for national socialists, and then for international socialists. This is where they imprisoned and tortured those who they feared the most, and who they therefore hated the most. In 2002 we cut it out of space and time with a blade-like wall, elevated it to a memorial, and created a museum here, in the heart of Budapest, of Hungary and of Europe. Let it remind the world that the Hungarians’ thirst for freedom cannot be denied. We created it in this place to also remind us that if freedom is lost, if national independence is lost, we ourselves will also be lost. It warns us that freedom is never given to us for free: we must always fight for it. We must always defend our freedom, whether from Austrians, Russians, Germans or Soviets, from those wearing the garb of the Arrow Cross or of communism. No one else will ever do this for us. This is what we are used to: here “liberation” has often meant the beginning of a new occupation. A nation which at the right moment, in the hour of reckoning, has sons and daughters who are ready to defend the motherland is a lucky nation. Because in this corner of Europe there regularly come times when it is not enough to talk about one’s love for the motherland: one must defend the motherland.

Today we remember those who one day woke up to find that everything had been taken away from them: everything which was not only worth living for, but worth dying for. What was taken from them was not only that which they had, but also that which they could have had. They were struck by the fear that if things continued in that way, they would lose Hungary forever. And then when they reached the edge of the precipice – about to see the crumbling of the thousand-year-old motherland and the Hungarian world – they rebelled. In 1956, from the half-light of oppression, there emerged the truly wonderful country which we had always desired. Before us flashed the realisation that there can be a Hungary which is built by the better angels of our nature. The Revolution was a national revolution. All of a sudden it turned out that those working in the factories here were not members of an international proletariat, but Hungarian workers. And we shall remember this moment for as long as a single Hungarian lives on this Earth. Let us digress a little, and admit that we not only remember: we also do not forget. We do not forget those who were on the other side. We are regularly accused of lacking the capacity to forgive. But in fact it is they who are unable to forgive us for all the sins they committed against us for almost half a century.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Though Westerners may have admired the Hungarian Revolution, they did not understand it. They didn’t understand the force that animated us. They didn’t understand why, so heavily outnumbered, we fought against a force that, according to human logic, we had virtually no chance of defeating. They did not understand that we fought because we insisted on our own culture and way of life to the end, and refused to be dissolved in anyone’s melting pot. We want to be respected for who we are and what we are. We have guarded Europe’s borders for a thousand years, and have fought for our national independence. We are a brave and combative nation which realises that those who are not respected are despised. We are not understood in Brussels today, just as we were not understood back then either.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The place we stand today is not only in front of the House of Terror Museum, but also on one of the world’s most beautiful boulevards. The beauty and grandeur that our nation is capable of are visible to us here in their true colours. Here we have the palatial villas of Andrássy út, Heroes’ Square is over there, and the Opera House and the Chain Bridge are further in the other direction. This is a heritage – a stunning heritage – that imposes an obligation on us all. Our time-honoured squares are not mere stage sets to idly marvel at: these are benchmarks, signals and warning signs. A nation that reached the heights that we did – and more than once – must not be content with less. Today, also, we must not be content with any less. There were periods when we needed to control an empire. There were times – more than once – when we needed to rebuild and restructure a ravaged motherland after its devastation by the enemy. We did not shy away from either responsibility, hard work or the will of God: we did what we had to do. Some of us stood their ground on the battlefield, while others won a place for us among the nations through their intellectual achievements. Today we celebrate a day when once again millions of Hungarians came to the simultaneous realisation that, though each of us lives our own life, we all belong to the same nation. We remember the moment when the cardinal and the lathe operator, philosophers and the “lads of Pest”, the archduke and the Soviet partisan turned defence minister all wanted the same thing. Today we remember the impact which broke through the walls dividing the severed parts of the nation, and reached the student gatherings of Transylvania and the cells of Szamosújvár Prison. Péter Mansfeld, Mária Wittner, László Dózsa, János Szabó, Gergely Pongrátz, Imre Nagy, József Mindszenty: we look at them, but we see a nation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Remembering also helps us to hold the truth of our life today in a steadfast gaze. The truth is that, thirty years after communism, there is once again a world power which seeks to turn the European nations into a monochrome, homogeneous mass. Like all cultured European nations, we Hungarians have always had our own notion of our country: a vision of freedom and civilisation; a vision of how to be human and how to live as human beings. This is how, throughout history, we’ve always rebuilt Hungary, once we’ve rid ourselves of our oppressors. This is how it was after we tore down communism and sent the Soviets packing. The truth is that now, three decades down the line, everything that we think about Hungary and the order of life in Hungary is once again under threat. The truth is that after we regained our freedom in 1990, we have once again arrived at a crossroads in our history. We wanted to believe that the old troubles could no longer return. We wanted to believe that the deranged dream that the communists had of turning us Hungarians into Homo sovieticus could never return, ever again. And now here we are, astonished to see that the forces of globalism are trying to force our doors open, and are working on turning us Hungarians into Homo brusselius. We wanted to believe that never again would we have to deal with political, economic and intellectual forces seeking to sever our national roots. We also wanted to believe that in Europe there was no room for terrorism and violence.

That is not how things have turned out. Europe has been blinded by its former achievements, and, without even noticing, has found itself forced to the back of the world stage. It once dreamt of taking on a leading role in the world, but now even its own neighbours hardly bother with it, and it can barely put its own house in order. Instead of realising this, they started campaigns of revenge against those who warned them of the threats of intellectual and spiritual self-immolation and of nihilism. People who believe that Europe needs external borders that can be physically protected have been branded as closed-minded. Those who believe that immigration poses a threat to our culture have been branded as racists, and those who have spoken up for the protection of Christianity have been branded as exclusionists. Those who have stood up for the protection of families have been branded as homophobes. Those who believe that Europe is an alliance of nations have been branded as Nazis. And finally, those who have stepped off the Brussels economic policy path, that leads to a quagmire, have been branded as fantasists. Few have survived these campaigns of retribution. It was this arrogance that has led Europe into the economic, political and intellectual chaos that every country is now seeking to escape. This is the truth we must face today. A short digression: it seems that over there they’re not familiar with our king, Saint Stephen of Hungary’s most important admonition: “naught elevates, save humility; and nothing casts down, save pride and envy”.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The European people – including us – have had enough of being made to accept globalisation as an irresistible force. We have had enough of being told day and night that there’s nothing we can do, we must accept our lot, adapt and bow down. We wanted and continue to want the European Union to be a guarantee and a vehicle with which the European nations protect their shared ideas of civilisation. In reality, however, we have made ourselves more vulnerable than we used to be. In every crisis situation they cry “Europe!”, as if it were a magic word which on its own is capable of turning around our fate. Europe has found itself in a dead-end. We Hungarians know why, and we see this most clearly at times like this, on the twenty-third of October. In the twentieth century the trouble was caused by military empires, but now, in the slipstream of globalisation, it is financial empires which have risen up. They have no borders, but they have global media, and they have bought tens of thousands of people. They have no fixed structure, but they have extensive networks. They are fast, strong and brutal. It is this empire of financial speculation that has captured Brussels and several Member States. Until it regains its sovereignty, it will be impossible to turn Europe in the right direction. It is this empire that saddled us with modern-day mass population movement, with millions of migrants, and with a new migrant invasion. They developed a plan with which they now seek to turn Europe into a continent with a mixed population. We alone resist them now. We have reached the point at which Central Europe is the last migrant-free region in Europe. This is why the struggle for the future of Europe is being concentrated here.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We Hungarians were the ones who broke the ice of silence. We are the ones who identified the forces which seek to sever Europe from its national roots. We brought them into light, and to combat them urged united national – and later international – solidarity. We could do no other. Our world is not that of half-light and covert warfare: we can never win with that approach. In darkness our enemies outnumber us. We only stand a chance of defending our borders, stopping the mass population movement and preserving our national identity in a battle fought with our helmets’ visors up, and with clear, straightforward talk. If we want a Hungarian Hungary and a European Europe, we must talk about it in a straightforward manner. And it is not enough to talk: we must also fight – as we have always done when our freedom and independence have been at stake.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Nowadays all elections in Europe are crucial. This is true of the recent elections in Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic, and this will be the case in Italy and Hungary next year. Now it is being decided whether the peoples of Europe take control back over their own national lives, whether they take control back from the European bureaucrats acting in cahoots with the economic elites. We must achieve far-reaching changes in every field: in politics, in the economy, in our intellectual life, and above all, in culture. Now it is being decided whether we can bring back our great old Europe: the Europe that existed in the days before multiculturalism. We want a Europe that is safe, just, civic, Christian and free.

Many people still believe that this is impossible. But let’s just think of 1956. On the morning of 23 October 1956, how many people sitting on the tram on the way to work would have thought that come the evening all that would remain of the statue of Stalin would be his boots? How many people believed that, if needed, even children would take up arms? István Örkény wrote about a little boy knocking on the door of a middle-class apartment in Budapest: “If I wipe my feet like a good boy, Lady, will you let me shoot out of your window?” And in 1988, how many people believed that within a year we would knock communism down, count it out, carry it from the ring, and send the Soviet troops from the country? And before 2010, how many people believed that we would soon have a new constitution based on national foundations, Christian in culture and capable of protecting our families? They said it would be impossible. They said it would be impossible to send the IMF packing. They said it would be impossible to hold the banks to account, it would be impossible to impose taxes on multinational companies, and it would be impossible to reduce household utility bills. They said it would be impossible to provide jobs for everyone, it would be impossible to resist mass population movement, and that it would be impossible to stop the migrant invasion with a fence on our borders.

Not once could I tell you with absolute certainty that we would succeed. In life there are no such guarantees. One thing has always been certain, however: if we don’t even try, we definitely cannot succeed. There is always some chance. In 1956 we salvaged the honour of the nation. In 1990 we regained our freedom. And in 2010 we embarked on the path of national unification. No one can tell us that something is impossible. We know that mass population movement can be stopped, that globalisation can be restrained, that Brussels can be reined in, that the financial speculator’s plan can be torpedoed, and that a straitjacket can be forced onto the insane idea of a United States of Europe. All it takes is for us here in Central Europe – Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Romanians and Hungarians – to unite our efforts. All it takes is for us to discover the strength in our hands, in our heads and in our hearts, and to behave in a way that befits proud nations.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The stakes are high, and we must not treat anything casually. Our strength today must not lead us into complacency or inactivity. We must never underestimate the power of the dark side. We are strong favourites to win the next election, but we have yet to earn it, and we have yet to complete the fight for victory. We will need everyone. We will therefore make our preparations in the months ahead. In March we will start anew, and then in April we will win again.

Go for it Hungary! Go for it Hungarians!”


via; featured photo: Szilárd Koszticsák – MTI