Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s speech at the thanksgiving service held on the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the Pan-European Picnic
19 August 2019, Sopron
Esteemed Chancellor, Esteemed Cardinal, Reverend Sirs, Dear Mayor, Esteemed Celebrating and Commemorating Community,
It is an honour for the citizens of Hungary, which has been free again for thirty years, to have a visit on this day from the Chancellor of Germany. I have the privilege to express the sincerest appreciation of the Hungarian people, what is more, of the entire Hungarian nation. I wish to express my appreciation to you who has been the leader of Europe’s most populous and strongest state for fourteen years, elected in four consecutive elections. I wish to express my sincerest appreciation to you as a person who has worked for Europe – beyond your own country Germany –, for cooperation among the nations of Europe and for the reunification of the whole of Europe for many years. It adds to the degree of our appreciation that we are well aware that Europe must be reunited time and again, debate after debate, conflict after conflict, day after day. Independent and free nations constitute the foundations of Europe, and therefore European unity is never entirely complete; it must be created over and over again. Over here in Hungary, according to the rules of chivalry, ladies command special attention and recognition as a matter of course, but before hard-working and successful ladies we doff our hats from afar. Congratulations to you. May your work be met with further exuberant successes, the respect of the German people, and the recognition of the whole of Europe. At the same time, we wish your family and you personally the blessing of God.
I wish to cordially welcome the citizens of the City of Sopron. You occupy a special place in the hearts of the Hungarian people. For us Hungarians Sopron has always been the most faithful city, and has remained so. We will never forget – and in school we teach this to every Hungarian child – that Sopron was the city and the people of Sopron were the Hungarians, Germans and Croatians who, upon the dismemberment of Hungary, tied themselves to Hungary through the force of a referendum. Glory to the City of Sopron! And we will likewise not forget that on this day thirty years ago, joining forces with your East German fellow sufferers, your broke through the prison fence between the free world and Hungary. With this act of breaking through, the wall that separated our country from Europe and rendered it a part of the Soviet world finally came down. This is where the post-World War II European order came to an end thirty years ago. Churchill foresaw a descending Iron Curtain already in 1946, and in 1961 with the erection of the Berlin Wall, they blocked the very last passage to the free world. We dismantled the wall erected on the East side here in Sopron, from the East side, this is where we opened up the path for the reunification of Germany and Europe. We Hungarians have always been supporters of the reunification of Germany. I clearly remember that at the time we Hungarians supported reunification in a larger percentage than Germans did back then. Not even mentioning Europe. We Hungarians have always known that our liberation from Soviet rule will only be final once the two Germanies become one and, if using that momentum, we can march into NATO and the European Union with the support of united Germany. This is how Helmut Kohl became a hero of the Hungarian people, and this is why he is celebrated as a cult figure to this day.
Esteemed Chancellor, Dear Celebrating People,
We Hungarians have always seen our relationship with the Germans as a special one. This is an old story. It is older than the Sopron Picnic, and older than our common defeats in the 20th century. Tomorrow we will commemorate our King St. Stephen and the establishment of the Christian Hungarian State. Our first king made some momentous decisions that continue to determine the lives of the Hungarian people to this day. He embedded our nation into the community of Christian European peoples. He brought his crown from Rome, but his wife from Bavaria. We all know how important such decisions are. And, Esteemed Celebrating People, here stands, next to this church, a memorial paying tribute to a particularly painful chapter of German-Hungarian relations. In 1946, two-thirds of the Sopron German, mostly Evangelical community were driven away and relocated. “Submerging, but not sinking,” the memorial reads. This is the kind of pain that never goes away. It is at most alleviated by the joy that the Germans of Hungary, and so of Sopron are once again a deep-rooted community of the Hungarian nation. They are gaining in strength in numbers and in self-esteem, while their new generations have the opportunity to study in their native tongue all the way from nursery school to university, and to elect a representative into Hungary’s legislature. The establishment of a Christian state, breaking through a border, a German community with newly-found vitality, special German-Hungarian relations; all of these point in one direction, the direction of a strong Europe. Freedom fighters of our kind knew even at the time of division that there is only one Europe. We believed in it, and it reunited. It reunited because we believed in it. Also today, this is what everything depends on. If we believe in it, the unity of East and West will survive, and Europe will become a rich and strong home of the European peoples once more.
Soli Deo gloria!
Photo credit: hirado.hu