Photo: MTI

Socialists: All freedom-loving democrats will celebrate next year

Ader: National holidays send message of unity

Hungary's national holidays, regardless of whether they commemorate events from decades or centuries ago, send a message of unity, President Janos Ader said on Friday at a celebration of Hungary's St. Stephen's Day national holiday.

The past year and a half made it difficult for Hungarians to commemorate their national holidays together, as many suffered serious losses because of the pandemic, which has claimed more than 30,000 lives, Ader said in his speech at a swearing-in ceremony of new officers in Kossuth Square.

“Under the siege of the pandemic, when we had to endure more and more trials every day, when we had to live from one wave to the next, the liberated joy of celebration seemed more than a light year away,” the president said.

“During this time we could hardly see ourselves as those who would carry on the glorious past,” Ader said. “We far more resembled our ancestors who had experienced so much misfortune.”

The president added, however, that although Hungarians “had to give up so much in the past several months”, they had also come to “recognise all the things that we can hold onto”.

“It turned out that there is something beyond the ultimate limit of fear and pain that pulls us back from the edge of the vortex, . that we have strength in reserve within ourselves and in the community,” he said. “It turned out that we can be selfless, helpful, attentive and disciplined, and that we can be patient, that we can adapt and pay attention.”

The president said the pandemic had also shown people “that we have compatriots working day and night in hospitals, elderly care homes and ambulances, and that there are soldiers who work to serve us every day”.

Ader urged the new soldiers taking their oaths to see not just the heroes of the past, but also each other as role models. “And in all those who in the past months have shown us what loyalty and the service of the homeland is about.”

He said the pandemic had also proven that no task or form of service was too small.

Ader urged the new officers to remember that by wearing their uniforms they were considered symbols of loyalty and humble service.

“Defeating the pandemic has had a price, too,” Ader said. “We fought and suffered for it. This task was appointed to our generation.”

“We were the ones who had to adapt, to survive and start over, just as our ancestors had to so many times over the past thousand years,” he said.

The president’s speech and the oath-taking ceremony were preceded by the hoisting of the national flag by a ceremonial guard in front of Parliament.

The ceremony was also attended by Defence Minister Tibor Benko, army chief Romulusz Ruszin-Szendi, representatives of the government, the state and the military; and diplomats, as well as several hundred onlookers.

Polish president congratulates on national holiday

Polish-Hungarian cooperation is an important factor in the security and development of the central European region and the whole of Europe, Polish president Andrzej Duda said in a letter addressed to Hungarian President Janos Ader on the occasion of the August 20 national holiday.

Poland and Hungary have “special relations full of deep friendship, mutual respect and intensive dialogue”, Duda said in the letter published on the website of the Polish President’s Office.

Citing the 65th anniversary of the Poznan workers’ uprising of June 1956 and of the Hungarian revolution of October of the same year, the Polish president said these events had “left a lasting mark in the history of Poland and Hungary”, recalling the sympathy of Hungarians with the Poznan uprising as well as the spontaneous support Poles gave to Hungary later.

The two nations can still rely on each other during times of emergency, even in difficult periods such as the coronavirus pandemic, Duda said.

He expressed his pleasure to have the opportunity of his official visit to Budapest in early September, adding that he is looking forward to the summit of the heads of state of the Visegrad Group to be held in Hungary at the end of November, on the occasion of Planet Budapest 2021 sustainability expo.

Socialists: All freedom-loving democrats will celebrate next year

All freedom-loving democrats will be able to celebrate August 20 next year if the Socialist Party forms a government, the opposition party’s co-leader Bertalan Toth said on Friday. Speaking in a video message posted on Facebook, Toth said “the state that we are supposed to be celebrating today is being stolen by Fidesz leaders and put into foundations and private accounts”.

“The fireworks will surely be beautiful but can we applaud with a good heart if we know that the glitter is only there so that thieves will be able to work calmly in the darkness that will follow?” he asked.

The thieves are “taking not just our money but our rights and our future as well”, Toth said.

“After a long time, there is now a real chance for change, which can give us all hope,” the co-leader said.

“Only we can restore the rule of law and democracy, and in 2022 we need to win the support of the majority of the country for that,” he said.

Karacsony: Hungary belongs in Europe

It should be made clear on St. Stephen’s Day that Hungary belongs in Europe and that is where it will stay, Budapest Mayor Gergely Karacsony said on Facebook on Friday, marking Hungary’s August 20 national holiday.

“Last year at this time we were starting to process the anxiety, hardship and pain of the months we had left behind and we thought that the most difficult days would soon be behind us and our lives would get back to normal,” Karacsony wrote.

“Back then we did not know that we would be facing a period that would be even more difficult than the one we had left behind,” he said. “The losses of our loved ones, the economic crisis that changed the lives of hundreds of thousands and the clouds of inhumanity and division gathering over our heads brought about the need for change.”

“King St. Stephen’s legacy made it possible for us to say in Hungarian . that the foundation of a new state, the reestablishment of the state is necessary,” Karacsony said.

The purpose of the functioning of the Hungarian state has to be the creation of a more humane and a fairer country “which can only start from within us”, the mayor said.

“The rule of the overbearing few has split this country in two, but the state cannot be built on hate, stigmatisation and civil war rhetoric, only cooperation and compassion,” Karacsony said.

He said the state today was “creating scapegoats” instead of offering solutions and pitting one half of the country against the other.

Karacsony said a new state needed to be founded that would guarantee legal certainty, public safety and the opportunity for people to live dignified lives.

The mayor said the concept of a European Hungary was in danger, insisting that there was a threat “fueled by petty power plays” that Hungary could pull out of the European Union.

“Life outside Europe is one that no one can want for their children, he said.

Jobbik calls for foundation of new state

Peter Jakab, the head of the opposition Jobbik party, called for the foundation of a new state rooted in cooperation in a speech commemorating the August 20 national holiday on Friday.

Speaking in a video message posted on Facebook, Jakab said a “new national unity” had been created through the cooperation of the opposition politicians.

“Conservatives and liberals, right- and left-wing politicians from Budapest and rural areas are all fighting together so that this country can finally leave the path of poverty and fear and find the path of freedom and prosperity,” he said.

“The current ruler of the Buda Castle has abandoned all the values that St. Stephen once represented,” Jakab said. One thousand years ago the king chose the West and Europe, “founded a state, and not foundations, and organised a church, and not a mafia”, the politician added.

Jakab reiterated his promise that if his party came to power next year, Hungary would join the European Public Prosecutor’s Office and set up a new anti-corruption office.

“No more crimes will be left unpunished; this will be the new national minimum from 2022,” Jakab said.

LMP calls for cooperation

The message of the August 20 national holiday is that Hungarians must cooperate and accept each other’s differences, the opposition LMP party said on Friday.

“August 20 means something different to each of us, still we can celebrate St. Stephens Day, the holiday of the foundation of the state and the new bread, together,” LMP said in a statement.

Everyone has a responsibility to later generations, “therefore, it is our duty to create a Hungary where our children and grandchildren will have a good life” both from an environmental and social point of view, the party said.

Meanwhile, LMP said that the evening fireworks display “will cost more than ever before”.

The party cited the government as saying it was going to spend 1.3 billion forints (EUR 3.7m) on the fireworks, shooting 40,000 rockets in the air, or eight times the number used in 2019. LMP said there was no place for “luxury spending amid the current economic and social crisis”.

“In addition, fireworks are obsolete and environmentally harmful, and have been replaced by alternatives in many European cities,” they said. “To leave a livable and sustainable heritage to our descendants, we must pay more attention to protecting the environment at all levels. After the change of government in 2022, this will be a cornerstone for the new government.”

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