Hungarians have always considered the United States of America as the home of freedom - stated Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Tuesday, the unveiling of the statue of US President George H. W. Bush – report the MTI.
The statue was erected beside a representation of the former Republican President Ronald Reagan. "Every Hungarian knows that the US is the land of freedom, which welcomed Lajos Kossuth with open arms, and provided the Cardinal Joseph Mindszenty refuge in its Embassy on Szabadság Square for fifteen years" – said the Prime Minister.
The statue of George H. W. Bush was unveiled by US Ambassador David Cornstein and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on 27 October 2020 (Photo: MTI/Zoltán Máthé)
"We will never forget" – he continued – "that the doors of the embassy were always open to the regime-changing youth of the time, due to the personal commitment of Mark Palmer, the US Ambassador to Hungary between 1986 and 1990."
He also noted how, on 6 October 1849, Lajos Batthyány was executed in the courtyard of the barracks that stood on the square. "The first Prime Minister of Hungary ended his life standing before the execution squad of an occupying army. With this, he sent a clear message to all who came after him" – added Mr Orbán.
He also reminded "those with weaker memories" that the Memorial of German occupation stands on one end of the square, while the Memorial of Soviet occupation stands on the other. This is also a clear message: if you are Hungarian, you have only two choices, you chose either occupation or freedom.
Today "we tribute to our friend George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st President of the United States with a statue" – said Viktor Orbán. Referencing the statue of Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States, standing on Szabadság Square, he noted: "two men, who launched a campaign against international communism stand together on this square".
The Prime Minister continued by recalling George H. W. Bush's 1989 visit to Budapest. When the President arrived on Kossuth Square they had asked him to "deliver us from Yalta," and he supported this wish because the dream of freedom for the peoples of Central Europe was a dream he shared.
The bronze statue was created by Máté István (Photo: MTI/Zoltán Máthé)
Bush "understood, that no matter what the comrades said to him within those walls, we Hungarian did not want a better deal with the Soviet Union, but wanted to be free of it. We did not want to make communism more comfortable with American funds but wanted to tear it down. We did not want to be closer to the free world but be a part of it" – recalled Mr Orbán.
Quoting former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, he continued by saying, President Bush "was a great blessing". "Many of us in Europe at the time felt the same way, we believed, that the United States he led would not let us down." The Prime Minister added that Chancellor Kohl would not have been able to unite Germany without Bush. Still, the fight continued with the leaders of other European countries who felt that the existing world order was the base of their security, influence and prosperity.
The courageous deeds of Bush and Kohl were proven right by History, as everything artificial and had no tradition came crashing down within years. And everything that had strong and deep roots flourished again, said the Prime Minister.
Mr Orban closed his speech with a story. During his visit to Budapest, a little girl asked President Bush what three things he would wish for Hungarian children. The President replied, liberty, happiness and long life. Closing his speech with the words: "Let it be so! God bless the United States and Hungary!"
Statue of US President Ronald Reagan on Szabadság Square (Photo: Both Balázs/pestbuda.hu)
Speaking at the event, US Ambassador to Hungary, David B. Cornstein also recalled that only nine years ago the statue of Ronald Reagan was unveiled on Szabadság Square. Now, another American hero of freedom is honoured with a statue, and there could be no better place for it, than near president Reagan and the US Embassy. He considered the statue a symbol of the Hungarian–American relationship, and optimism in the future.
He emphasised that Hungarians had never lost their love of freedom, and the collapse of communism had brought new life to people who loved liberty. George H. W. Bush's 1989 visit to Budapest was a symbol of this hope, the Ambassador said.
The 41st President of the United States dedicated his life to speaking for freedom, helping people and bettering their lives. He also helped the people of Eastern and Central Europe to free themselves of the yoke of communism – emphasised David B. Cornstein, whose tenure as ambassador is to end in a few days. In connection to this, he noted that it had been his honour to strengthen American–Hungarian relations and expressed his conviction that shared goals and values continue to unite the two peoples.
A statue of George Washington, the father of the American nation stands in Budapest's City Park (Photo: Balázs Both/pestbuda.hu)
Let us today make a renewed commitment to always stand for the love of liberty, today and always – said the Ambassador at the end of his speech. The ceremony was closed by the reading of a letter from George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States, and the son of George H. W. Bush, in which he expressed his thanks for the statue honouring his father.
US Ambassador to Warsaw, Georgette Mosbacher, representatives of the Bush family and Foundation, Marie Royce Assistant Secretary of State, April H. Foley former US Ambassador to Budapest and George Pataki, the former Governor of the State of New York, were among distinguished American guests present at the event.
Minister for the Prime Minister's Office, Gergely Gulyás and Ambassador Cornstein announced that a statue of George H. w. bush would be erected in Budapest in September, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the fall of communist rule in Eastern and Central Europe.
Cover Photo: Statue of George H. W. Bush on Szabadság Square
Read our earlier article for more details: Statue of George H. W. Bush to be erected beside statue of Ronald Reagan on Szabadság Square