(For English subtitles, click on “cc” and select “English”).
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán delivered a humdinger of a speech Sunday afternoon at an official ceremony commemorating the 60th anniversary of the start of the Hungarian revolution of 1956. Attending the event was Polish president Andrzej Duda flanked on either side of an enormous stage outside Parliament by scores of notable Hungarians.
Thousands of government supporters, many of them arriving from the countryside by bus, took up position directly in front of the stage well before the start of the event. Last-minute arrivals, as well as those intent on heckling the prime minister by blowing whistles and horns during his speech, contented themselves with standing along the periphery of Kossuth Square.
A number of those attending reacted to the protestors’ attempts to heckle Orbán’s speech by assaulting them verbally or physically. Renowned Hungarian historian Krisztián Ungváry was punched in the face, and various members of the press wishing to cover the “demonstration” were harassed by what appeared to be private security guards.
A doozy of a speech
Orbán opened by lauding the natural kinship between Hungary and Poland — “two freedom-loving and brave nations with a millennium-long friendship,” he said.
Speaking much louder than usual (presumably to hear himself over the cacophony of whistles, horns and jeers) the head of government took care not to mention Hungary’s martyred prime minister, Imre Nagy. by name. In fact, judging from Orbán’s speech, it was not so much Imre Nagy, a reformist communist, who was “buried in a nameless grave faced down wrapped in tar paper with his feet tied together in barbed wire” as Hungarian freedom itself. Fortunately for Hungary, unlike Imre Nagy, whose earthly remains were merely exhumed and reburied in 1989, Hungary’s freedom managed to “resurrect” itself in time to help bring about the system change of 1989 after another “30 years of communist dictatorship” said Orbán, making no distinction between the Stalinist period preceding the 1956 revolution and the period of “goulash communism” which followed.
Drawing extensively on language used in his speech to parliament of last Monday. the head of government neglected to mention the outcome of the October 2nd referendum, or the “new unity” he claims emerged from the fact that over 98 percent of 43 percent of the electorate voted “no” to an EU migrant resettlement quota scheme. Instead, he praised the Hungarians for their courage in taking down fences in 1989 and erecting them in 2015.
What do Hungarians have in common with ancient Greeks?
Hungarians should be proud of their forefathers and proud of their homeland, Orbán explained.
“We are the confident sons of a strong Hungary. We toppled the communist state. We sent the Soviets home and we cured our country of the afflictions of dictatorship,” the prime minister said.
“We sent a message to the West: that the Soviet Union can be wounded,” Orbán said in reference to the 1956 uprising.
After comparing Hungarians to “the slingshot-wielding David” who defeated Goliath, the prime minister then suggested that Hungarians have an “ancient knowledge” deep in their souls “similar to that of the ancient Greeks 2,500 years ago.”
“The testament of the ancient Greeks is that the secret to a happy life is freedom, and the secret to freedom is courage. We, Hungarians, have a talent for being free. We always knew what to do with it. That freedom isn’t a condition that we would arrive to but a way of life, like swimming. If you stop doing it, you sink,” he said.
Protecting those who don’t know any better
“We do not want a united states of Europe to take the place of an alliance of free nations,” Orbán said. “The task of the freedom-loving peoples of Europe today is to protect Brussels from Sovietization. We do not want for them to decide for us with whom or how we must live in our own homeland. We Hungarians want to remain a European nation and not a nationality within Europe.”
According to Orbán, this empire-like European Union seeks to destroy the freedom-loving legacy of the heroes of 1956.
“As the inheritors of the 1956 revolution we cannot accept that Europe would cut the roots of ours that made us great and which helped up survive the communist oppression,” he said.
“We must take responsibility for our own future. If the majority of Europe replaces the foundations of its own civilization,” Orbán said in reference to the EU’s refugee policy, “we must be able to protect that Hungarian piece of Europe, which warmed our hearts and inspired the Hungarians.”
The prime minister then explained that just as it fell upon Hungarians to be brave enough to open its borders in 1989 to unite East Germans with West Germans, despite the Soviet troops stationed in Hungary, so too were Hungarians brave in 2015-2016 when they closed their borders “to stop the mass migration streaming [through Hungary] from the south.”
Hungary was courageous during the refugee crisis, Orbán said, despite being stabbed in the back by the very Europe it is seeking to protect.
“We were brave and we did not allow people to threaten us or blackmail us. We never asked for this to be our task. History brought it about like this, and fate gave it to us. All we did was not run away or turn our backs. We just fulfilled our obligation. We even stood our ground when those attacking us from behind are the very people we are protecting. We had the courage to look injustice in the face. On Hungarian soil, injustice does not excuse one from having to fulfill one’s responsibilities. So Europe can always count on us,” he said.
“Cowardly people have no home”
Orbán then explained his wishes for Hungary and Poland alike to never become cowardly nations, warning that “cowardly nations have no home.”
“There will always be dramatic situations when we must face strong opponents and in which the stakes are high, but that is no reason for us to let fear rule over us,” he said in reference to the perceived risks of terrorism ushered in by the refugee crisis.
The prime minister continued by blaming the “well-intentioned and naive people who have no idea what kind of danger they are exposing themselves and Europe to.
“If you must choose between two paths, choose the harder one. That is the first rule of courage. The modern world suffers because it has forgotten all of this. The Europe of today wants the cheaper, diluted, more comfortable option. Instead of its own children, immigrants. Instead of workplaces, speculation. Instead of discipline, indebtedness.
“We Hungarians have embarked on the more difficult path. Instead of immigrants we want our own children. Instead of speculation and aid, we want to work. Instead of being enslaved by debt, we want to stand on our own two feet. And instead of putting our hands up [in surrender] we chose to defend our own borders.”
The prime minister went on to explain that victory cannot be obtained without the “spiritual awakening of Hungary and the Hungarian people.”
Orbán closed his speech:
“Before us shines the great example of 1956. For he who has eyes to see will see. He who has ears will hear the truth of the millennia. In the main things there must be unity, in the miscellaneous things freedom, and in all things love. Praise to the brave! Go Hungary! Hungarians!