President János Áder gave a speech in Parliament on Saturday, at the celebratory session marking the 30th anniversary of Hungary’s first free parliament after the fall of the communist regime.
“What we created over the past thirty years has withstood the test of time … Hungary is an independent, democratic state under the rule of law, a free country,” Áder said.
In his speech, Áder proposed to “use as a resource” the experience of the past thirty years to resolve the problems posed by the novel coronavirus epidemic “so we can soon enjoy freedom again”. In the past weeks, the epidemic has shone a light not only on “our frailty” but also on the strength of national cohesion, he said.
The nation has to stand together to have the country return to normalcy again, Áder said.
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The first session of the first freely elected parliament on May 2, 1990, “marked the end of an era”, Áder said.
He noted that the current parliament has only seven members who “took part in that historic moment”, while its youngest member was not yet born.
The era that ended with that session was called a people’s democracy but was in fact a dictatorship, Áder said.
The first Hungarian parliament after the communist era had the task to build a state on the rule of law, prepare the ground for freedom, strengthen its constitutional basis and set up the institutions of democracy and the nation’s sovereignty, Áder said.
Áder thanked all those working on creating the new political and constitutional system. He also thanked the first president, Árpád Göncz, the first prime minister, József Antall, and the Speaker of the first Parliament, György Szabad.
Hungarians at the time of the regime change fought for Hungary to “become the homeland we all call ours … an independent country serving no one … and a community where the love of country does not only mean that people are faithful to the country but that the country also keeps faith with them.”
After the first free elections in 45 years, the first free parliament had the task to start the country on a path to an economy based on a free market, competition and private property; where the country becomes an equal partner in strong alliances; where its borders could be crossed freely; where the country becomes a member of the European Union and NATO. “[That is when] Hungary became truly Hungary again,” Áder said.
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After Áder’s speech, lawmakers adopted a political declaration marking the 30th anniversary of the restoration of popular representation in Hungary.
The proposal was submitted to parliament by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, House Speaker László Kövér, Fidesz lawmakers Máté Kocsis, Lajos Kósa, Mihály Varga, Zsolt Németh and Richárd Hörcsik, and Christian Democrat MP Péter Harrach, and was passed with 126 votes in favour and one against.
The declaration said the Hungarian parliament honoured the memory of the first freely elected assembly after the country had lost its independence on March 19, 1944.
In a relatively short time, the first parliament “restored a country destroyed and impoverished by forty years of communist rule, built a democratic state governed by the rule of law, set up the legal framework for market economy, transformed the country’s network of international ties, and integrated the responsibility for Hungarian communities beyond the borders into the nation’s policy,” the declaration said.
In later years, the new basic law taking effect in January, 2012 protected the country from “external dependency and renewed impoverishment”, the document said.
It said that the MPs of Hungary’s incumbent parliament commit themselves to fundamental values driving the regime change such as freedom, constitutionality and national self-determination.
Gergely Gulyás, the Head of the Prime Minister’s Office, said in a Facebook post that the composition of the Hungarian government and parliament is determined by the voters rather than “Moscow communists” since 1990.
Gulyás praised those who “made that first meeting memorable with their speeches, and with their lives gave weight to those words”.
Featured photo by Zoltán Máthé/MTI