Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s speech on the anniversary of the 1848 Revolution

March 15, 2017, Budapest

Ladies and Gentlemen, Hungarians around the World,

Allow me to extend heartfelt greetings to our friends who have come here from Poland. It is important for us that today you are here with us again – as you were in 1848.

Every nation celebrates according to its own character. There are some which organise festivals, and others which give parties. Our Hungarian national holiday, which greets the Spring, is imbued with cheerful gravity. On national days the Hungarian nation takes a photograph of itself – or, as our children would say, a selfie – with its own history in the background. Even today, the struggles born from the nation’s desire for freedom are still aglow, and the glorious days of ’48 and the battles of ’49 radiate light, as darkness descends on Világos – just as, a century later, the bright October of 1956 was followed by a chill November. When we celebrate, we do not forget that all our freedom fights – one by one – ended in occupation.

Yet our family selfie shows the image of a victorious nation. As we see it, we have not been defeated. We may have lost many important battles, but we Hungarians do not think in terms of a single battle – or a single campaign. Here in the Carpathian Basin, in a zone where cultures, empires and civilisations clash, we can boast the greatest possible victory: in the end we always won the war – the war fought for survival of the homeland and survival of the nation. We are here; in spite of everything, and defying all others, we are here. We are here, and today as well we celebrate our finest compatriots – the brave people without whose courage we could not be here today. Today we take a huge family photo of the Hungarian people, together with them. Honour to the brave!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Those who won battles and campaigns against us eventually lost the war. The Tartars are gone without a trace, the enormous Ottoman Empire wasted away, the Habsburg Empire evaporated, and the Soviet colossus simply perished. Enormous empires, where is your sting now? The fifteenth of March is irrefutable proof that we were, we are and we will be. This is our glorious victory. The importance of 1848 not only lies in the fact that it happened, but also in the fact that it has been happening ever since – and not only in our annual celebrations: 1848 has become our inner touchstone, and our moral compass. The touchstone and compass of ’48 indicate to this day the measure of every person in terms of their homeland: who is loyal, who is a patriot, who is committed, and who is brave. They show us what greatness is. But they also show us what pettiness is, what falsehood is, and what it is to kill dreams; what it is to build our country, and what it is to destroy it. The touchstone of 1848 defines our personal positions within the nation, and 1848 equally defines our position among nations. And we have reason to be proud of our position, which we deserve. In 1848–49, the Hungarian community contributed more people to fight under the flags of freedom than did all the other countries of Europe combined.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

1848 does not stand as a lone island in the river of Hungarian history. The Hungarian nation existed before 1848, and the spring of ’48 was not the first time we raised the flag of freedom: it is the link between Rákóczi’s War of Independenceand the October of 1956. It delineates the backbone of a great freedom-fighting nation and defines its historical bloodline; and it is this – the notion of belonging to a nation, to the Hungarian nation – that will stiffen the backbone and extend the bloodline of many generations to come. Because the scientists, poets, Olympic champions and prime ministers of the future are here among us, running around in shorts or with ponytails in our kindergartens and schools. No one yet knows what they will become, but we can hope that here among us we have the new Youth of March, who will continue to write the long, richly detailed, epic poem which is the shared epic of our nation and of freedom. We cannot want – and indeed we are not able – to define and plan the fate of our descendants. Grandfather Petrovics, whose grandson is known to Hungarian history as Petőfi, may have envisaged a respectable future career for his young heir as a master butcher or a butcher’s assistant. We can never know which Hungarian compatriot will answer the call of the motherland. There is no doubt that here, among us, we have future Lajos Kossuths and Sándor Petőfis, and we also have our István Széchenyis, Ferenc Deáks and József Eötvöses. Our duty is to pass on to our children and grandchildren a country and a spiritual and moral inheritance which will permit the emergence of those who are not afraid to fight the revolutions and freedom fights that the future holds in store for the nation. Our task is to safeguard the country for them, to retain the nation for them, and to provide them with guidance on what they must do: to ensure the continuity of the nation; the continuity of a great nation embracing Nagyszalonta notaries, brave trainee lawyers, ardent actresses, master butchers, entrepreneurs, mothers and fathers, farmers, craftsmen, soldiers, scientists and champions. We must ensure the future of a Hungarian nation symbolised by the miracle of the burning bush: it has been ablaze for a long time, yet it has always survived, and has not been consumed by the flames. Does a young Hungarian today need any more encouragement?

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On this day 2,061 years ago an assassination shook Ancient Rome; in the spring of 1848 revolutions broke out; and now, too, the peoples of Europe are in rebellion. There are signs which always convey the same message: all is not well in the empire. Your Hungarian is a commonsense type: we have keen eyes to see the signs of the times, and sharp ears to hear their call. One cannot anticipate history, and neither can one block it. Here in the Carpathian Basin we have learnt that whatever must come to pass will come to pass: everything has its own allotted time, and all we can do – which is also our duty – is prepare for the changes. The revolutions of 1848 broke out because the imperial great powers of the day denied nations the right to transform their systems of government, to weave anew the fabric of their economies, and to open their cultures’ gates to new ideas. European emperors, tsars and kings forged a holy alliance in the interest of European peace. That holy alliance of peace, however, turned into an enemy of national independence, sovereignty and freedom, and became an alliance of hypocrites. The poet János Arany wrote:

“The stronger from the weaker took

All that they could, that pleased their eye.

No longer is it thus. Our world is ruled

By meeting and by management:

When now the stronger trick or fool,

They first confer – and give themselves consent.”

This story sounds familiar. In the past year the nations have rebelled once again. They have rebelled against the hypocritical alliance of Brussels bureaucrats, the global liberal media and international capital, with its insatiable appetite. First the British rebelled, then the Americans – and there is more to come this year.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In Europe today the winds of ’48 are blowing once more. We can still keep the energy released by rebellion within constitutional boundaries, and reform the European empire profoundly, but peacefully. First of all, the masks of hypocrisy in Brussels must be removed, and we need straight talking and open debate on the future. The machinations hidden behind fine principles must come to an end. Széchenyi urged us on by saying that when the whole of Europe disintegrates, Hungary – rising from its ashes – will, to the glory of humanity, stand guard over order, peace and freedom: just as when it once defended Christianity. When within us there is more patriotism than envy, and more civic virtue than desire for glory, I sincerely believe that the Hungarian nation will come to something – and something great.

Yes ladies and gentlemen, something can come of Hungarians if we understand the essence of the Twelve Points, which runs thus: “Let there be peace, freedom and accord!”

Yes, but what are we to do with those who do not want peace but unrest, not accord but division? What are we to do with those whose only joy – as we also see today – is to ruin the joy of others? It would be easy to make fun of them. We could say that they’re foolish blowhards, too full of wind. But let's not do that, because strength and numbers demand restraint. Our business is with the building of a nation, not with the jostling of pint-sized parties. And seen from the vantage point of the Hungarian nation, we have a choice between two paths: we can choose the one leading to the wide gate of national greatness, or the one that leads to the swamp of hatred. Time is truth, and will decide what is not true.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Lajos Kossuth said that we are a nation, and we have the right and the strength to pursue our own goals, and not to be the tools of foreign ambitions. Perhaps neither the past nor the future of the Hungarian nation matters to Brussels and international capital – but they matter to us. Perhaps the security of the European people does not matter to Brussels and international capital – but it matters to us. Perhaps whether or not we remain Hungarian does not matter to Brussels and international capital – but it matters to us. We know what János Arany expressed thus in verse: “If the storm of times blows us away, God will be never more have Hungarians.” This is also true today, and this is what is at stake in today’s European rebellion. In defence of our independence and national sovereignty, we must bravely fight the battles that lie ahead of us. We must stop Brussels: we must protect our borders; we must prevent the resettlement of migrants; we must make the networks that receive their funding from abroad transparent; we must keep the right to regulate taxes, wages and household utility charges here at home. And in this, Dear Friends, we can only rely on ourselves. Therefore we must continue to keep the responsibility of governance within the nation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In the spring of 1848 the seeds of revolution fell upon the soil of many nations. Yet in most places freedom was unable to take root: in some places birds ate the seeds; in others the soil was not fertile enough; and elsewhere weeds choked the young shoots. Why was it – and why is it – that our Hungarian soil is the most fertile for the roots of freedom? The answer is here, before us. The sons of every nation long for a happiness – and thus it is for us. But every nation can only be happy in a way that is determined by its own nature. We Hungarians can only achieve happiness if we follow the path of freedom and independence. Without freedom and independence our country is not a true home for us. And a Hungarian is not the type that can be happy in a country which is not home.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A nation is not only a shared language, culture and past, but also the sum of every moment in which the trials of history weld our hearts together. This is why in recent years we have become a strong nation again. Our fight for our national and Christian constitution has welded our hearts together. Our rebellion against debt slavery has welded our hearts together. Our struggle for economic independence has welded our hearts together. And our hearts have been welded together by the battle in which we beat back the mass population movement which is besieging Europe, and in which we stayed the hand of Brussels as it reached to open the gates from within.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We stand on our own feet and we eat our own bread. We are not the servants of Hungarian or foreign powers. We have given work to hundreds of thousands of people. We have strengthened families. We have broken through barriers of class, background, age, religion and political belief, and we have created genuine national unity. We have done all this in the teeth of threats and protests from the alliance of hypocrites.

My Friends,

There is no unity, however, which can be maintained without the need to work hard, day after day. There is no achievement which will defend itself. We are the ones who must defend these things. No country is ever complete. We will never give anything away for free, and competitors will not hand over anything on the basis of goodwill: not position, opportunity, work, profit or prosperity. We are the ones who must make the unity we have finally created actually function, and every day extend and rebuild it. The Hungarian nation is strengthening and rising, and, through its talent and hard work, will rightly receive recognition among the community of European nations. The name of Hungary will again be a fine one, worthy of its great fame in days gone by.

Long live Hungarian freedom, long live our homeland!