(MTI) – An international social and educational project dubbed Freedom Express, commemorating the 25th anniversary of the fall of Communism in Europe, arrived in Budapest on Wednesday.
The project initiated by the Warsaw-based European Network Remembrance and Solidarity (ENRS) is travelling through Poland, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Germany. After stops in Gdansk and Warsaw, it will stay in Budapest for two days.
After the express arrived in Budapest, the organisers presented the itinerary for the stay which starts with a visit to the Memento Park where Communist-era statues are on display.
ENRS director Rafal Rogulski said Freedom Express is transporting 20 young people from 10 European countries and Costa Rica, all born after the collapse of Communism in Europe. Hungary is represented by Anna Rubi, currently a film student in Switzerland.
The project has been realised with the cooperation of cultural ministries and institutions specialising in 20th century history in the countries the express is travelling through. The Hungarian partners are the Ministry for Human Resources, research institute and archives for the history of regime change Retorki and the Polish Institute in Budapest.
On Wednesday afternoon, the participants met in parliament some key personalities from the time of the regime-change, including parliamentary speaker Laszlo Kover and former President Matyas Szuros.
Kover told the participants that many young professionals involved in the regime change were drawn into politics despite not preparing to become lawmakers. However, they felt they had a mission in life beyond practicing their original profession, he added.
Fidesz’s two-thirds majority was needed in 2011 to pass Hungary’s new consitution and this was the real regime change, Deputy House Speaker Sandor Lezsak said. He also mentioned Karol Wojtyla’s accession to the papal throne in 1978 as a cornerstone in Eastern Europe’s history.
Participants met Matyas Szuros, the interim president in 1989 who declared Hungary as a republic on October 23. He said that the political elite of the time, the Communist Party and the new democratic forces all agreed that no reforms could be implemented without a political turn. He said he performed a coordination task during the talks of the national roundtable.
Szuros noted that it was no mere coincidence that the declaration of Hungary as a republic was on October 23. They purposely wanted to evoke the spirit of the freedom fight in 1956.
Peter Tolgyessy, a liberal politician told the visitors that the Communist-style “planned economy” by that time had become unsustainable. Therefore, a violent suppression just like in Poland would have just aggravated the situation and Hungary would have immediately become insolvent in the mid-80s. He labelled the regime change a “strange transition” that ultimately took a different path than other countries’.
The schedule for Thursday includes a visit to the House of Terror Museum and a boat trip on the River Danube with lectures organised by the Polish Institute about the fall of Communism.
To read the trip’s blog visit www.1989.enrs.eu/blog.
Photo: MTI – Zoltan Mathe