The more than one thousand-year-old Hungarian state is one of Europe’s oldest existing states, and therefore it deserves respect. It is good to remind ourselves and “those who seek to take us to task” of this from time to time, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó stated on Tuesday in Eger at the city celebration held in memory of King St. Stephen.

Mr Szijjártó stressed that the past more than one thousand years have shown that Hungary and Europe can only survive if they preserve “themselves,” their security, freedom, identity and Christian culture. He added that the goal for the future can be no less than to preserve Europe as European and Hungary as Hungarian. Hungarian history has demonstrated that no matter how strong the occupiers and “the oppressors’ ideologies” were, no matter by how much the lieutenants of dictatorships outnumbered us; the Hungarian people have always stood up for their freedom and defended it, he said.

“We Hungarians are still here in the heart of Europe, we are here as a nation full of vitality, we are here as defenders of European freedom and European values,” the Minister said. Mr Szijjártó highlighted that St. Stephen did the greatest thing that a monarch could do for his people: he defended Hungary’s sovereignty at a time when submission and self-surrender would have been the evident decision. Also in the Europe of his time, the great powers of the day “dictated the pace”; also back then “pacts were made,” peoples ceased to exist and merged into other peoples forever, the Foreign Minister said.

King St. Stephen, however – with enormous faith in the Hungarian people – laid down the foundations of the independent Christian Hungarian state which he reinforced with robust laws, the protection of the borders and the sovereignty of the Hungarian state, he said, adding that today St. Stephen’s legacy and values are under attack again.

“Financial and political powers, partly visible and partly hiding in the shadows” want Europe to rid itself of its Christian European identity, and nations to forget and to leave behind their national identities, the Minister said. This can only be seen as “an attack on our freedom,” Mr Szijjártó stressed. How could you call a country free which is forced to surrender its national identity, religion, cultural values and historical inheritance, and which is deprived of the right to decide on its own fate and on “whom to let in, whom it wishes to live together with and whom not?” the politician asked.

The Hungarian people are “freedom fighters,” they will defend their freedom, they will preserve Hungary as a Hungarian country, he stated. “We will protect our borders, our churches, our faith, our culture,” he said, highlighting that “you can rest assured that here no decisions will be made to remove Christian symbols from public premises”.

We must continuously fight for Christianity and the Hungarian state, he said, adding that the right decisions were always made when the Hungarian people chose to follow St. Stephen’s path. Choosing the path of a strong, European, Christian, sovereign and free Hungary is quite certainly the right decision, he said, adding that this is what they forged an alliance for nine years ago, and have reinforced this alliance continuously, step by step, day by day, election after election.

Mr Szijjártó wished the Hungarian nation that in the coming years “may we strengthen this alliance, and thereby ever further strengthen a free and strong Hungary that follows the path of St. Stephen”.

In his address László Habis, Mayor of Eger (Fidesz-KDNP) highlighted that the castle is a national memorial site, and the government is committed to its reconstruction so that they may showcase it to future generations in its old glory. He said they are proud that for centuries Eger has been the intellectual, church, cultural and educational centre of “Upper Hungary”.  He said also today the people of Eger are living in historical times as significant developments are being implemented in the city.

After the celebration, Mr Szijjártó and Mr Habis handed over decorations. This year, the title of Honorary Citizen was conferred upon physical education teacher Barna Csányi.