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Several officials of the Hungarian government and leaders of ethnic Hungarian communities beyond the border marked the March 15 national holiday on Friday.

Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén said in Arad, Romania, that the message of the 1848 revolution was that Hungarians must survive in their homeland.

He said that while both the 1848 and 1956 revolutions failed, they brought Hungary recognition and changed the country’s future.

“Because without 1848 there wouldn’t have been a national revival or an Austro-Hungarian Compromise and without 1956 there wouldn’t have been a change of regime,” Semjén said.

Deputy PM Zsolt Semjén. Photo by Tibor Rosta/MTI

The deputy prime minister called March 15 Hungary’s “dearest and purest national holiday”.

Speaking at a commemoration event in Székelyudvarhely (Odorheiu Secuiesc), in central Romania, defence ministry state secretary and Fidesz deputy leader Szilárd Németh said May’s European parliamentary elections would be “the most important battle of the spring crusade”. Hungarians, he said, would have to decide at the election whether they want to live in a country of Hungarians or a country of immigrants.

“There’s another empire expanding today,” Németh told a crowd of thousands. “And its goal, which it openly states, is to erase the Europe of free nations and create a united states of Europe where European nations will again be subordinated to the power and financial interests of an imperial capital.”

March 15: Orbán Calls for Fight to Protect Europe’s Christian Culture

He said that in 1848, Hungarians fought for their freedom and independence against the oppression of an empire and were forced to do so again today.

“Today we say no to the pro-migration imperialist efforts devised in Brussels,” Németh said. He said Hungarians must insist on preserving their freedom, language, rights, values, national symbols, historical flags, Christian faith and culture.

János Mezei, the head of the ethnic Hungarian Civic Party, urged the commemorators to call for the fulfilment of the promise of autonomy for ethnic Hungarians in Romania under the 1918 proclamation of Alba Iulia which declared the union of Transylvania with the Kingdom of Romania.

Week in the Life of the Hungarian Diaspora: 1848-49 Revolution and War for Independence

Zsolt Szilágyi, leader of the Hungarian People’ Party in Transylvania, said Romania’s leaders must not ignore the Szeklers’ demand for autonomy.

At a commemoration event in Nagyvárad (Oradea), László Tőkés, head of the Hungarian National Council of Transylvania (EMNT), urged commemorators to “fight the peaceful everyday fights for freedom, justice and life”. He said Hungarians were the people of freedom, as they revolted against the rule of the Habsburg Empire, Soviet communism and the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu.

Tőkés said the message of the freedom fights fought by Hungarians throughout history was perseverance and starting over, “because it’s impossible to live without freedom”.

Then and Now: Legendary Sites of the Revolution of 1848

Addressing an event in western Ukraine’s Munkács (Mukacheve), Fidesz MEP Andrea Bocskor said 1848 showed that no amount of oppression could keep Hungarians down.

“The freedom for which our ancestors fought is the same freedom we must preserve and protect today,” she told the commemoration event organised by the Transcarpathian Hungarian Cultural Association (KMKSZ). “Especially today, when we have to witness powerful forces try to loosen and tear down the concept of national identity and the feeling of togetherness,” Bocskor said.

the featured photo illustration was taken in Budapest. Photo by Balázs Mohai/MTI