In his speech, the Prime Minister pointed out that Bavarian-Hungarian friendship is special and unique in Europe. This friendship has a long history, during the course of which the two states have acted together both for the worse and for the better, but they are on the right path, because they have set themselves a common objective: the establishment of a safe, free, peaceful and prosperous Europe, the Prime Minister underlined. He added that this objective is a good reason to be proud and it is worthy of the 1956 freedom fighters’ legacy.
Mr. Orbán pointed out that once every thirty years Hungary’s geographical location pushes it into the mainstream of current European battles; this was the case in 1956 and 1989, and also in 2015–2016, when Hungary had to secure its borders to halt mass migration from the South. The country has never once asked for this role: fate and history thrust it upon Hungarians, but the Hungarians did not run away, did not retreat, but fulfilled their obligations. He added that Hungarians will stand their ground “even when attacked from behind, by those who in reality we have been protecting”.
He said that although injustice hurts, complaining is not what Hungarians do, and injustice is no excuse for not fulfilling our duties. Bavarians can always count on this, he added.
The Prime Minister also said that his generation has always dreamt of the reunification of Europe, when their children and grandchildren could finally live free and better lives.
Hungarians, he said, have also dreamt the European dream of peace, security and prosperity, which is why they thought it was natural for them to join the EU. “We belong here, we have returned, and this is our home […] it goes without saying that we must also defend it”, he said.
Mr. Orbán said that today Bavaria and Central Europe are the strongest regions in the world, and it is their joint responsibility as the engine of Europe to ensure that the region develops and prospers for the benefit of the whole of the EU. If they join forces as partners based on mutual respect, they will be able to achieve great things, he underlined.
The Prime Minister said that freedom can only make sense when we are able to act by transcending our petty goals and our fears, and for that we must be brave. The situation in Europe does not allow us to look away in cowardice; our common European Union is in trouble, and it has drifted into a zone and state of lawlessness. There are only unsolved problems, questions and disputes, but no agreed answers, Mr. Orbán said.
He stressed that we cannot expect others to solve the problems, and we must take control of our own destiny. In order to preserve Europe and the European dream, we must make changes – and the question is whether we are brave enough to make meaningful changes.
He said he believes that mere reform will not be enough, and we need more: renewal. We cannot allow “ideological considerations, financial interests or poor political decisions” to dismantle the European unity which we have built from generation to generation with much sacrifice and hard work, Mr. Orbán underlined.
He recalled that on 6 November 1956, after the Soviet intervention, sixty thousand people gathered in Munich in order to remember in silent procession the Hungarians who had fallen in their fight for freedom. And when armed opposition was no longer possible, due to brutal Soviet communist reprisals, and many Hungarians set out for the West, Bavarians offered them a helping hand. There they awaited the decision of the Bavarian authorities in a disciplined and orderly fashion. Many of them, Mr. Orbán said, “were even allowed to make this their new home, and they went on to become law-abiding, hardworking and dedicated citizens of Christian Bavaria. In other words, they became good Germans”.
The Prime Minister pointed out that Hungary is a Christian state with a thousand-year history, which has always been the land of freedom fighters. It tolerates neither oppression, nor occupation, nor dictatorship, he said, and “I can assure you that, in the future also, Hungary will always stand on the side of European freedom”.
In 1956 Soviet tanks ground Hungarian freedom into the mud, he said. The military intervention of the communist dictatorship was a defeat for the whole of Europe at that time. The slavery on the eastern side of the Iron Curtain also shackled the West: “We all knew and felt that Europe could only be free and strong when all of it is free and strong. This was the realisation which led to the magnificent idea of the European Union; the Treaty of Rome was signed after the bloody suppression of the Hungarian Revolution”.
Mr. Orbán pointed out that in 1989 Hungary opened the border and the path to Germany, and recalled what former State Chancellor Helmut Kohl had said: “The Hungarians knocked the first brick out of the wall”, to which the Prime Minister added, “the draught which blew through the resulting hole took with it the entire communist world order”. He said that Germany’s reunification made the European Union a world power. Germany then supported Central Europe, and in consequence, the nations of Central Europe joined the common homeland – and with this the European Union reached its zenith.
In his address, First Vice President of the Landtag of Bavaria Reinhold Bocklet said that with the Revolution of 1956, the Hungarian people opened the way towards a free Europe, and those who fought bravely then are highly admired today. We commemorate the heritage of the heroes of the Revolution today, he added.
Consul General Gábor Tordai-Lejkó said that 1956 was a remarkable moment in history, when the whole world looked to Hungary and saw that Hungarians are a freedom-loving people who are prepared to sacrifice their lives for freedom.