Text: The Diplomat. /Photos: Embassy of Hungary.
The Hungarian ambassador, László Odrobina, held his first National Holiday since taking office on Wednesday 23 October, the date on which commemorates the Hungarian revolution that began on 23 October 1956.
Firstly, the Hungarian ambassador pointed out the three festivals that determine the national identity of his country: “August 20, the day that celebrates the anniversary of the founding of the Hungarian state, as well as the sanctification of the first Christian king that dates back to an event that occurred a thousand years ago; March 15, called “Spring of the Peoples” on the European continent, which recalls the outbreak in Hungary of the Revolution and Struggle for Freedom of 1848-49; and finally, on October 23rd, when homage is paid to the victims, martyrs and surviving heroes of the revolution and struggle for freedom that began against the communist regime on a day like today, just 63 years ago”.
“The Hungarian nation as it was in 1956 -continued László Odrobina-, always expressed with its decisions throughout its history its intention and need to belong to the European community. We share our beliefs, philosophies, culture and history with European nations. Our form of government is based on the ideals of Greek democracy, as well as on the ideology of freedom, while our legal order is built on the foundations of Roman law and our culture and spirituality on ancient philosophy and thought and on Judeo-Christian traditions”.
We Hungarians living in Central and Eastern Europe have always been defined by the idea of Christian freedom. Whereas, in the previous terminology, both in 1956 and in 1989, freedom clearly meant liberation from something, such as repression or external occupation, we are now looking for what we want to be free for and for the construction of what kind of world we want to use our freedom for. The idea of Christian freedom, therefore, values the individual performance that is done for the benefit of the community and considers the nation to be the determining basis of a society, as a culturally and historically determined community by the individuals that compose it.
“We are fully convinced and it is also a historical fact that in addition to other historical events in the Central European region, such as the Prague Spring of 1968 or the Polish Solidarity movement, everything that happened during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and Freedom Struggle contributed greatly to regime change and the fall of the Iron Curtain. Among the objectives of the 1989 regime change was not only the liberation from the communist regime to which we had been subjected, but also the reintegration into a reunited Europe, already as a free and independent nation proudly representing its own historical traditions and its intellectual and cultural heritage, which are based on a solid ancient and Judeo-Christian foundation.
It is a real honour for me to have the opportunity to commemorate the 1956 revolution, as well as the anniversary of the 1989 regime change in my new capacity as Ambassador of Hungary in Madrid, especially given that the Spanish people at the time followed both events with particular attention. And just as in Hungary we followed with great interest Spain’s transition to democracy, here too the region of Central Europe, Hungary, which after the change of regime was in the process of democratisation, aroused a visible interest.
“Since that change of regime, the relationship between the governments of Spain and Hungary became closer and closer, as confirmed by the visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, Josep Borrell, to Budapest. It shows an improvement in economic relations, more and more Spanish companies are investing in Hungary, not to mention the fact that the number of Spanish tourists visiting Budapest is increasing. Apart from the political and economic links, in the cultural area the intensification of collaborations is also notorious, either taking into account the agreements concluded between institutions or the diffusion of Spanish language education in Hungary.”
In conclusion, the Hungarian representative recalled the words spoken in 2006 by the recently deceased President of the French Republic, Jacques Chirac: “We all remember the sacrifice of the Hungarian people for their freedom, but also for our freedom. Hope never dies if it is nurtured by a passion for freedom, that freedom which is at the forefront of the motto of the French Republic and of which I know it is so valuable to the Hungarian people.
The event also provided an opportunity for the Ambassador of Hungary, László Odrobina, and the Director of the Secondary School of Education of the Liszt Academy of Music, Szabolcs Benkő, to negotiate long-term cultural and educational cooperation, the commemorative year of “Thirty years in freedom”. Thus, the concert offered by the students of the Béla Bartók Conservatory, besides being a success, also served as an opening act of the aforementioned commemorative year.
Among the guests were the Director General for Coordination of the Internal Market and other Community Policies, Pascual Navarro, the Commander of NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre, Rubén Carlos García Servert, and numerous members of the Diplomatic Corps resident in Spain.