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We must defend our cultural identity now

In his speech, the Prime Minister stressed that “we live at peace with our own culture and history […] This is a great gift in this world; let us acknowledge its value.” At the same time, he noted, that there can be no room for idleness when it comes to protecting our culture. Mr. Orbán observed that the handover of the refurbished museum is also a major milestone in the “Liget Budapest” (City Park) project.

He said that Hungarians are believers in spiritual greatness which strives to reach new heights. Their forebears understood this and took it seriously, he stated, which led them to create Heroes’ Square with its Millennium Monument and the City Park, and then to build the Museum of Fine Arts. The Prime Minister stated that the Millennium celebrations of 1896 showed that the Hungarians are a confident and ambitious nation – the result of a turbulent history of a thousand years and the capabilities demonstrated in the world of science and culture.

Photo: Árpád Földházi

According to the Prime Minister, the Hungarians did not measure themselves by what they could take from others, but by what they could give to culture and science, adding that the Hungarian people is one “which has always given more to the world than it took from it”. He noted that for centuries the Hungarian people has defended Europe in its battles and added to its shared treasures, and with its culture it has contributed to Europe’s diversity.

Mr. Orbán pointed out that a part of Hungarian history is that there are those who repelled by the idea of national greatness, and who want to judge Hungary according to foreign standards. Such political regimes left a deep imprint on the building of the Museum of Fine Arts and on the City Park, he said, but with the reopening of the former, a message has been sent that the “age of aping others, and of mediocre cultural policy has come to an end”. He added that today such ideas will not stand the test of time, they are in decline, obsolete, and decaying.

Photo: Árpád Földházi

The Prime Minister stated that “we believe in enduring ideas, and we hope that there will be a shared order towards which we can all freely aspire. This hope is embodied by the Museum of Fine Arts.”

Speaking about policies in the field of culture, he mentioned the return to Hungary of the Seuso Treasure and the renovation of cultural institutions. He noted that in 2017 those visiting Hungarian museums numbered more than the country’s entire population. Mr. Orbán stressed that “Today we not only have the courage to continue the tradition of the Hungarian millennium, but we also have the strength to do so.”

Photo: Károly Árvai

“Preserving its traditions, in the City Park we set out to bring this exceptional space into the 21st century,” he said, adding that “We shall heal the wounds.” At the end of his address Mr. Orbán said that in earlier times there were those who thought that the museum building was not beautiful enough or national enough, but time has proved them wrong.