Statue is a symbol of US-Hungarian relationship and optimism for the future, Cornstein (left) said – Photo: MTI

PM, US ambassador unveil George Bush statue in Budapest

Orbán hopes Trump will be re-elected

"Hungarians have always regarded the United States as a home of freedom," Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said on Tuesday, at the inauguration of a statue of George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st president of the United States, on Budapest's Szabadsag Square.

In his address, Orbán noted that 19th-century Hungarian statesman Lajos Kossuth had been given “a heartfelt welcome” in the US. He also said that the US embassy, located in the square, had given shelter to Cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty for 15 years after 1956.

“We will never forget that the embassy’s door was always open, thanks to the personal commitment of Mark Palmer, US Ambassador in Budapest between 1986 and 1990, to the young Hungarian democratic opposition,” he said.

Referring to two memorials in the square, one of German and the other of Soviet occupation, Orbán said that “they send the message that if you are Hungarian, you only have two options: either side with an occupying force or support freedom”.

“And today, we are here to honour with this statue our friend, George Herbert Walker Bush,” Orbán said, noting that it was erected next to a statue of President Ronald Reagan, calling them “two men from America who started the fight against global communism”.

Orbán noted that during his visit to Budapest in July 1989, President Bush had expressed support for the democratic youth’s request “to free Hungary from Yalta” since the freedom and independence of central Europe had also been the president’s dream.

“What we wanted was not to move closer to, but become part of, the free world,” the prime minister said.

Addressing the unveiling ceremony, David B. Cornstein, the outgoing US ambassador, said the statue is a symbol of US-Hungarian relationship and optimism for the future.

“The desire for freedom had never left the Hungarian people, and the collapse of communism in 1989 brought a new dawn to the hopes of freedom-loving people here and everywhere. President Bush’s visit to Hungary in July 1989 was a symbol of that hope,” the ambassador said.

He said President Bush had dedicated his life to address freedom around the world and help lifting people up.

“A modest man with extraordinary vision and compassion, President Bush helped the people of Central and Eastern Europe to free themselves from communist rule,” he said.

The ceremony was attended by representatives of the Bush family and foundation, former New York State governor George Pataki and former US Ambassador April H. Foley.

Orbán hopes Trump will be re-elected

Later in the day Orbán presented the Hungarian Order of Merit, Middle Cross with the Star, to the outgoing US Ambassador. Orbán said that everything had changed after Trump’s election as US president four years ago and the designation of the ambassador to serve in Hungary.

The United States showed an open, honest and friendly approach towards Hungary, the prime minister said.

“Thanks to Ambassador Cornstein, Hungarian-American relations have been restored to their original shine,” he said, adding that the United States had become “in a rare gift” Hungary’s friend.

The two countries have developed broad cooperation in diplomacy and foreign affairs; the United States is helping Hungary as a friend and Hungary is acting as the US’s friend in international politics, Orbán said.

The prime minister thanked Ambassador Cornstein for “bravely sidelining those who have an interest in generating tension between the United States and Hungary”.

“The ambassador knows Hungarians well, he understands what we think about central Europe, the EU and the United States and why, and he knows the key to their heart,” Orbán said.

Thanking the award, Ambassador Cornstein called the Hungarian prime minister his friend and a partner, adding that ties between Orbán and President Trump are very good.


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