Your Excellency Mr. President, Madam First Lady, Honourable Ministers, Honourable Mayor, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,
It is an old truth that the prouder we are of our own culture, the stronger we will be. And it is also true that this pride also brings out the ability to respect the cultures of other nations. The following are some Hungarian historical sites in Turkey. The baptismal font in Hagia Sophia, where Tormás and Bulcsú – and later our leader Gyula – were christened. The oldest representation of a Hungarian woman: the mosaic image of Princess Piroska – or Saint Irene of Hungary – on a wall in the southern gallery of Hagia Sophia. The statue of Ibrahim Müteferrika – a Kolozsvár-born Hungarian Unitarian, and the first man to print books in Turkey – next to Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. The tomb of Richárd Guyon, on a hill above one of Istanbul’s railway stations. Fortresses on the Dardanelles designed and built by Baron Ferenc Tóth. A Szekler gate in the garden of the former house of Imre Thököly and Ilona Zrínyi. The former residences of Ferenc Rákóczi II and Miklós Bercsényi in Tekirdağ. A Kossuth memorial museum in Kütahya, and a Béla Bartók memorial house in Osmaniye. I could continue the long list. Each example is proof that today I have the privilege of welcoming the leader of a nation with a history which has many times crossed the path of our nation’s history. Turkey is proud of its history, and its built heritage outside its present-day borders. It researches, renovates and preserves these wonderful buildings. It does exactly what strong and confident nations are accustomed to doing. We Hungarians understand this: a considerable part of our cultural heritage was stranded outside our present-day borders. We are also proud of it, and we preserve and renovate it whenever we can. It is therefore by no means surprising that together we have jointly restored – and are now also inaugurating – this türbe, or mausoleum, which both nations feel to be part of their history. Our forebears also thought this to be right, and so in 1914 they listed this tomb as a historic monument to be preserved. Sultans, heirs to the throne, presidents, prime ministers, scholars and very many Turkish people have paid homage here; and the citizens of Budapest have taken this building to their hearts.
Your Excellency Mr. President and Madam First Lady,
Like the history of our country, the history of this building is full of vicissitudes. The villa that was built around it was shelled during World War II, and the cellars within the hill were later filled with rubble. Finally, after half a century, we removed the rubble, and the mausoleum and its surroundings have regained their former glory.
Your Excellency Mr. President,
There is a reason why this charming part of Budapest is called Rózsadomb: “Rose Hill”. This age-old name is a tribute to Gül Baba and his famous roses. The image of this saintly dervish lives on in the memory of the Hungarian people, and it is also preserved in legend, operetta and film. We know that he was born into a heroic era, when the great sons of our nations fought one another: Suleiman the Magnificent and General Miklós Zrínyi, Ali Pasha and Commander György Szondi. The heroism of the battles with their varying outcomes is a reminder of our two nations’ greatness. It is also an admonition: that today, also, we must rise to that greatness. We Hungarians clearly remember that our freedom fighters, banished from their country, found refuge in yours: Imre Thököly and Ilona Zrínyi in İzmit; Ferenc Rákóczi II in Tekirdağ; Lajos Kossuth in Kütahya. And while in history lessons nowadays the fact is ignored – proving that world history is not written by us Hungarians – in World War I we fought side by side as allies, even at Gallipoli. We see that Hungarian historical sites in Turkey are preserved in a fitting manner. We wanted to reciprocate this when, in 2013, President Erdoğan and I agreed on the joint renovation of the Tomb of Gül Baba. Over the past century this building has become part of our capital’s architectural heritage – just as have the Mosque of Pasha Qasim in Pécs, the minaret in Eger and, indeed, the Rudas Baths here in Budapest. But the great resolutions of us leaders can only come to something if we also find committed and steadfast supporters for the cause. In this we have been lucky: we found Adnan Polat, whom I wish to welcome, and without whom I doubt we would be standing here today. From him we have also learned of the links between Gül Baba and Galatasaray. On behalf of Hungary, I thank him for the work he has completed for this cause.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
May this building and its surrounding garden be enjoyed by both Turks and Hungarians as a place for reflection, spiritual renewal and friendly encounters. I wish every success to the institution’s managers: the Gül Baba Heritage Foundation.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Your Excellency Mr. President,
But before we open this building and the garden to the citizens of Budapest, to tourists, pilgrims, scholars and businesspeople, I would like to thank the contractors, architects, restorers and gardeners for their work. I once more thank President Erdoğan for his goodwill and the attention with which he has graced the restoration of the tomb, and I thank him for visiting us in Budapest on this remarkable occasion.
Thank you for your attention.