“Hungarians are in a cultural expansion, regardless of the crisis” Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said at the opening of the House of Hungarian Music in Budapest on Saturday, the Day of Hungarian Culture.
Orbán said Europe is going through “rough times” as waves of the pandemic and of migration come one after the other, and the continent’s political, military, economic and cultural weight wanes compared to the rest of the world.
While the pandemic has closed or scaled down cultural institutions elsewhere, in Hungary, it is “in full bloom”, he added.
He noted that Hungary is tied in the European Union, for the highest share of government spending on culture, adding that Hungarians identify as a “nation of culture”.
Orbán said Hungarians “can feel at home” in the building, the “excellent work” of the Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto. He added that the building doesn’t “force itself on its surroundings” in Budapest’s City Park, but “fits in organically, conforms and harmonizes” with it.
Orbán said opposition politicians’ stand against the Liget Budapest project, which aims to rehabilitate the capital’s City Park, would not be forgotten. It isn’t by chance, he added, that “the mayor had other commitments today”.
He said the left wing had “defended something that was run-down”, while “opposing something that is beautiful, world-class and inspiring”.
Orbán said he would resist the “temptation for political revenge” on the Day of Hungarian Culture, but added that “we’ll take care of them in April”, referring to the upcoming general election.
He acknowledged the Liget project is “half-finished” and said voters could “finally bring an end to the debate in April”.
Orbán said political debates in Europe today that pit “globalization against Christian heritage, the bureaucracy in Brussels against national pride, immigration against family support, and gender politics against the protection of children”, put high culture and its mission in a new light.
The conflict, he said, is not between West and East, but between West and West, and it poses the threat of “cultural alienation”.
“We want to keep Europe a whole, and we must do something against cultural alienation,” he added.
He said high culture commands respect and attention in the “Babel-like turmoil” of today.
“If there is a higher purpose which music – Hungarian music, too – can achieve, then it is this,” he added.
In the featured photo, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán arrives at the opening of the House of Hungarian Music. Featured photo by Vivien Cher Benko/MTI/Prime Minister’s Press Office