The Prime Minister highlighted that Europe is undergoing hard times, one wave of mass migration follows another. “The European energy crisis is here on our necks, the ideological pressure from Brussels is ever increasing,” and meanwhile the political, military, economic and cultural weight of our continent is continuously diminishing compared with the rest of the world, he said.
He took the view that elsewhere institutions such as this are being closed down, scaled down or losing significance due to the pandemic, but here in Hungary this magnificent new institution “stands in all its glory”. Additionally, the House of Hungarian Music is not an institution on its own, but is part of an enormous cultural project, Mr Orbán added at the ceremony held on the Day of Hungarian Culture.
Mr Orbán said according to the latest available data, Hungarian cultural expenditures are pro rata ranked first in the European Union, it is true though that we are tied in the competition. While in 2010, we were somewhere in the middle of the rankings, “there came a constitutional turnaround,” and we managed to climb back to the top, he said, adding that the fact that “we are a nation of culture” forms an important part of the self-image of the Hungarian people.
He said every new building is a risk, only the first glance cast at the completed building can bring some reassurance, but there seems to be a consensus that Sou Fujimoto did an excellent job.
The Prime Minister took the view that in the space created by the Japanese architect “we Hungarians feel at home,” perhaps because the distance between the two nations, the Japanese and the Hungarian people is not as great as it appears on the basis of geography. However, another possible explanation is, he said, that this building “doesn’t want to impose on its environment”; instead, it organically blends into and harmoniously mixes with it, “and this is easy on the Hungarian eye”. This approach is specific to not only Japanese traditions, but equally to the most excellent Hungarian architectural traditions.
The Prime Minister said we must not forget “how our political opponents behaved regarding the refurbishment of the ‘Liget’ City Park,” and it is perhaps for a reason that “the Mayor of Budapest happened to have a prior engagement elsewhere on this very day”. Seeing this beautiful building, the full house, the numerous international recognitions it earned, “it is as clear as day that we were right,” he stressed.
He said the Left defended that which was dilapidated, derelict and unworthy, and attacked that which is beautiful, of the highest world quality and elevates the spirit. “The temptation is great, but it is perhaps not appropriate to engage in political reprisal on the Day of Hungarian Culture,” but “we mustn’t forget about it nonetheless, we should just delay it,” and should instead “beat them in April,” he said.
The Prime Minister recalled that in 2010 they wanted the “Liget” to become a flagship of Hungarian culture, and this is how the Liget Project – which is Europe’s largest cultural project – came about. We should say thank you to former Mayor of Budapest István Tarlós under whose mayorship these projects could start; during his time as mayor, the metropolitan municipality and the government formed a rewarding partnership “whose fruit the people of Budapest will reap for many long decades, and of which the entire Hungarian nation will be proud,” he stated.
Mr Orbán observed that the Hungarian nation never forgets the names of country builders, and while there have always been those who want to hinder things, who are negative, and who would destroy the country, no one remembers their names because the Hungarian nation “wipes them from its memory”.
He highlighted that in its present form the Liget Project is a semi-finished undertaking, an unfinished work, a torso. Therefore, they eagerly look forward to “Hungarian electors putting an end to this matter in April so that we can conclude this debate once and for all,” he said.
The Prime Minister also mentioned that today’s European political debates place European high culture and its mission into a new light. “Globalisation versus Christian foundations, Brussels bureaucracy versus national pride, immigration versus family support, gender politics versus the protection of our children,” he said.
He took the view that this is not an East-West conflict, but a new West-West conflict, in consequence of which we are facing a threat of cultural alienation. “We, however, would like to keep Europe together,” and “so we must also do something against cultural alienation,” he stated.
According to Mr Orbán, we must therefore turn to the classical values of high culture; high culture can mediate, and commands respect and attention “in this chaos of Babel”. If there is a higher purpose, for the attainment of which music, including Hungarian music, is the right medium, then this is the very medium, the Prime Minister said.