Prime Minister Viktor Orbán highlighted the efforts of the post-WWI Bethlen government in a letter to a conference held in parliament to mark its centenary on Tuesday.
In his letter, Orbán said that the efforts of that cabinet had been downplayed or falsified for decades, but they could provide answers to problems of the present. “The achievements of a government and its prime minister are measured by comparing the situation in which they started and at which they arrive,” the letter said. Prime Minister István Bethlen’s work was more than crisis management, it was aimed at “founding and organising a homeland” and resulted in “the rebirth of a free and independent Hungary after centuries”, the letter said.
Orbán noted that the Bethlen government had been formed after the Trianon Peace Treaty in 1921, in which two-thirds of Hungary’s territory and over half of its population were ceded to neighbouring countries. Hungary had “just survived the loss of blood caused by a world war, the Spanish flu epidemic, and bolshevik terror… it was balancing on the brink of financial and economic disaster, it was politically isolated and surrounded by hostile states”, Orbán wrote, adding that such a multitude of problems “could have overwhelmed even champion crisis managers”.
Bethlen was able to succeed because “he was not looking to the world-saving ideologies of his time for a solution, but assessed the situation in light of realistic opportunities… he trusted the strength of the Hungarian nation, its talents and its exceptional ability to heal itself,” the prime minister said. “That was sufficient to restack the building blocks strewn about by internal and external enemies and rebuild a homeland … which thus far had seemed incapable of survival.”
The conference was organised by the pro-government Veritas history research institute and the Parliament Office.