Speaking at the unveiling ceremony of a statue in honor of George H. W. Bush in Budapest’s downtown Szabadság tér, just outside the U.S. embassy, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that “As a Hungarian, you can only do one thing: You choose either oppression or freedom.” Every Hungarian knows, he continued, that the United States of America is the land of freedom, the land that “welcomed [Lajos] Kossuth with open arms” and “sheltered Cardinal Mindszenty for 15 years in this building” after 1956.
“Today, we are here to pay tribute with a statue to the late George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st President of the United States, a great friend of Hungary,” PM Orbán said, adding that on the same square stands the statue of another U.S. President, Ronald Reagan. “Here stand two American men, who launched a joint fight against communism,” the prime minister said.
“When George H. W. Bush arrived in Hungary, we asked him to free us from Yalta. He understood that we weren’t trying to make a better deal with the Soviets; we wanted to get rid of them,” Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said.
In the PM’s view, the late Bush understood that “we weren’t simply trying to get closer to the free world, we wanted to become a part of it.”
“George Bush was a great blessing. This is the worthy summary of what his presidency meant for Europe and Hungary,” PM Orbán said. His actions were quickly underpinned by history, as within a few years’ time “everything that was artificial and non-traditional fell into pieces, and everything that was deeply and strongly rooted was resurrected.”
Approaching his closing remarks, PM Orbán recalled when in 1989 a little girl asked George Bush what were the three things he would wish for Hungarian children. “Freedom, happiness and a long life,” George H. W. Bush replied.