- miniszterelnok.hu - https://www.miniszterelnok.hu/prime-minister-viktor-orbans-speech-at-the-inauguration-of-the-renovated-house-of-traditions/ -

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s speech at the inauguration of the renovated House of Traditions

Honourable Mayor of Budapest, Honourable President of the Academy, Honourable Conspirators, Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Many of us think of Hungary in many different ways. I feel closest to the school of which Sándor Márai was a member. He once wrote that the miracle is not that Hungary is the way it is, but the miracle is that it still exists. How true! But it is also the case that sometimes deep within miracles there are some perfectly simple truths. The miracle of our survival is of this kind. And the essence of this blindingly simple truth is that the Hungarian people are anchored to their cultural heritage with strong, deep roots. This is why we can still stand here today. And we may add that this root system runs across the entire Carpathian Basin. We Hungarians can stand here today, one thousand one hundred years after our occupation of our homeland, because we know where we came from, we know our debt to the generations preceding us, and indeed we know what we owe to those who will come after us. In order that those who come after us can also know what we know, we have written the following in our Fundamental Law: “We commit to promoting and safeguarding our heritage, our unique language, Hungarian culture, the languages and cultures of nationalities living in Hungary, along with all man-made and natural assets of the Carpathian Basin. We bear responsibility for our descendants; therefore we shall protect the living conditions of future generations by making prudent use of our material, intellectual and natural resources. We believe that our national culture is a rich contribution to the diversity of European unity.”

Kodály, Bartók, Lajtha, Illyés, Csoóri, Kallós: I could continue the list of those responsible for the exceptionally rich cultural heritage of which, to this day, the Hungarian community can boast. And we could add two other names to this illustrious list: Ferenc Sebő and László Kelemen. During our first term in government – the memory of which is now receding into the mists of time – these two conceived the idea that Hungarian folk arts should have a permanent home in Budapest, where we collect, categorise, display and pass on this tradition. One might as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb, we thought, and – with a counterrevolutionary audacity that today is hard to grasp – we chose this very building. This is how the House of Traditions found a home in the Buda Vigadó: one of Budapest’s most beautiful buildings in the eclectic style. Then the national government was manoeuvred away from its post at the tiller of the nation. Although the internationalists returned to power, the ensuing bleak years saw this place and the idea somehow survive. In gratitude for this it is here perhaps fitting to mention the name of Iván Vitányi. Finally the wheel of fortune turned once more – or perseverance bore well-deserved fruit, but that is not a question for our celebration today. At any rate, the national relief battalion arrived on the scene, and within a budget of 7.5 billion forints we have renovated and upgraded this building, inside and out. We have restored the entrance foyer, the grand staircase and the ceremonial hall, so that the Buda Vigadó can once more be one of the command posts of Hungarian culture.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Honourable Mayor of Budapest, Honourable Director-General,

The future of a country is determined not only by its economy, military capability and political influence, but also by its cultural achievements. Returning to Sándor Márai’s line of thought, together we all form the cultural tradition of which folk arts are the deepest layer. Our culture shows who we were and who we are. This is the mounting and mould of our identity; it is the strength which forges the inhabitants of a country into a nation, and the members of a nation into a community. The national curriculum currently under preparation – and the entire Hungarian school system – must stand on these foundations. From this perspective, every forint spent on culture is an investment in the future: in a future which is Hungarian and Christian – and therefore European.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I sometimes hear that a culture war is being fought in Hungary. I suspect that jostling over certain positions and journalistic disputes between cultural philosophies are perhaps part of the normal order of modern-day life. Instead, hoever, cultural peace reigns in Hungary. A consensus is forming that we must build our future on families, work and the reunification of the nation. A culture war is not being fought in Hungary, but in Europe. In Europe we are indeed going through times of cultural conflict, and this European culture war, as I see it, is in fact a fight for our own culture.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We know that different cultures give rise to different societies, values, laws and political systems – some of which are incompatible with Europeans’ way of thinking. We Europeans respect other cultures and their representatives, but no one can impose on us the obligation for this respect to lead to the surrender of our own culture and submission to another culture. In our own land – and this is true of both Europe and Hungary – we want to live by the rules and values of our own culture. If the historical and cultural foundations disappear, if we allow the cultural bedrock to be replaced, then Europe will collapse like a house of cards. We Hungarians have seen this before, and this is why we perceive this danger. Therefore we calmly but unwaveringly stand up and declare who we are, and what we think about God, country and family. And we also say what Hungarians see as the consequences of this for life in Europe. This is the time to do just this. If we fail to do this, we will fall victim to a creeping pan-European cultural surrender. We believe it to be no mere accident that we are Hungarians and Christians; and it is also no accident that we live right here, in the Carpathian Basin. We see predestination in this. And we are proud of our civilisational achievements and our culture, and thus also of our songs and dances. For us Hungarians folk culture is not a collection of museum pieces, but a sustaining force.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is why we built the National Theatre and the Palace of Arts, and why we renovated the Music Academy, the Pest Vigadó, the Erkel Theatre, the National Riding School and Kossuth tér. This is why we shall soon be reopening the renovated Museum of Fine Arts, why renovation work on the Opera House is continuing apace, why the new Museum of Transport is being built, why the Liget Budapest project is under way, and why Buda’s Castle District is being regenerated. Throughout the country theatres, main squares and churches are being renovated.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In the homeland of Hungarians there has been great debate about what it is to be Hungarian. There are some who say that a Hungarian is someone whose grandparents were Hungarian. This is an appealing answer. But the prevailing mood which we have developed, the process of country building and national unification which we have embarked upon, and the spirit that has animated us also give a new answer to the old question of who is Hungarian. My Friends, a Hungarian is someone whose grandchildren will also be Hungarian. The mission of this building is that our grandchildren may also be Hungarian. May this place be the headquarters of Hungarian folk culture. May this be the place where we find the ways and means to help us take the values of our folk arts to young Hungarians.

 Ladies and Gentlemen,

Finally, I would like to thank everyone who has taken part in the renovation of this wonderful building. The Buda Vigadó has now regained its former glory: may it preserve that glory for many centuries to come. May it fill our grandchildren with inspiration, enthusiasm and pride, so that, standing here, they too can say: “May it be as it was of old!”

Thank you for your attention.