The strong country that is capable of standing up for itself which István Tisza, Hungary’s prime minister during the first world war, considered his most important goal during his political career is now a reality, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said at a ceremony in Budapest on Wednesday marking the centenary of Tisza’s assassination.
Tisza served two terms as prime minister in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In his second term, he tried to prevent the country’s entry into the first world war but was overruled by the monarch, Francis Joseph.
In his address at the wreath-laying ceremony at Tisza’s statue next to Parliament, Orbán said Hungary should appreciate its sovereignty, that it has its own path, a strong economy, national cohesion that transcends borders and that it has strong allies.
Orbán said Tisza was a “patriotic politician to the core” who looked out for the interests of the Hungarian nation instead of those of certain classes, “gentry cliques”, ideologies or financial interest groups.
He said Tisza had entered politics with the aim of providing “at least one building block” for the foundation of the future of the Hungarian nation. And after the collapse brought about by war, the destruction wrought by “the red terrorists” and Hungary’s loss of two-thirds of its territory, these building blocks were the foundation on which the country’s interwar statesmen like one-time prime minister István Bethlen and Kúnó Klebelsberg, who served as interior minister and culture minister during the period, could build the future, he added.
“To this day it is hard to understand why Europe held a gun to its own head and fired it in the summer of 1914,” Orbán said.
“But the more we learn about the facts, the more it seems like the whole thing started out with a bad decision being made in Vienna, and another in Berlin, a third one in St. Petersburg, a fourth one in Paris and a fifth one in London, and all these bad decisions added up to a disaster that consumed the entirety of Europe.”
Hungarians were not in a position to make a good decision “in the shadow of all the bad ones”, Orbán said. “We weren’t sovereign; we were chained to a multiethnic empire, to a rock that had started to fall and landed four years later and shattered to pieces.”
Orbán said the world was again witnessing a global political shift. He said there was no shortage in the world of “self-endangering ideas” or “European leaders who have tomorrow’s front page headlines in mind”.
“Once again, we have to be mindful, because our entire homeland could be lost if we give up control over our fate,” Orbán said.
After the speech, Orbán and Parliamentary Speaker László Kövér laid a wreath at Tisza’s statue. This was followed by a prayer from Reformed Bishop József Steinbach.
Featured image: MTI