Monday 16 June was the 25th anniversary of the reburial of Imre Nagy (prime minister of Hungary, executed for his role in the 1956 Revolution) and his fellow martyrs. This year is also the 25th anniversary of the fall of communism. At an event in Budapest on Monday evening commemorating both events, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade called 16 June 1989 the day that truth was reborn.

Minister Navracsics said that “16 June 1989 saw the rebirth of truth in Hungary; of truth, without which freedom cannot emerge. Because without truth there is no freedom, as we also knew back then.” A concert at the Vigadó concert hall in Pest brought the day of commemoration to a close, but before this the Minister gave a speech, in which he said that, for Hungarians, proclaiming the truth also meant the collapse of “the world empire of lies”.

Mr. Navracsics said that in Heroes' Square, Budapest on 16 June twenty-five years ago, at the reburial of Imre Nagy – and of those executed along with him – a country faced up to its past, its fate and its history, standing in shock over the coffins of heroes whose names and deeds had been suppressed, denied and dishonoured for years.

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He stressed that freedom had been fought for not only in Hungary and not only twenty-five years ago. “Together with us were the heroes of Berlin in 1953, of Poznań and Budapest in 1956, of Prague and Bratislava in 1968 and of Gdańsk and Warsaw in the 1970s and ’80s. But our contemporaries were also with us: from Tallinn to Bucharest, from Berlin to Sofia; all those – the heroes of Central Europe – who had had enough of lies, dictatorship, repression and Soviet military occupation.

All of us knew in 1989 – as we know today – that our freedom is not the freedom of any one country alone.” Mr. Navracsics also spoke about freedom in Central Europe over the last quarter of a century, and how perhaps we might not even notice it, because “Freedom is like air: you only notice it once it starts to run out.” He also mentioned that today, a generation after its birth, many speak of democracy somewhat dismissively.

The feeling has grown in many that “We have been members of the European Union for ten years, and still Western Europe eyes us with suspicion and mistrust. It’s as if they don’t understand us.” The Minister explained that the legacy of communism is unknown in Western European countries: “The shattered moral norms, nihilism, deportations and the history of the Gulag camps.”

They do not know about things which for them are distant history, but which “for us are often a problem of the present which affects our contemporaries.” “Twenty-five years after our liberation, we have still not found a form in which we can make our heritage understood to them,” said Mr. Navracsics, adding that this year offers an excellent opportunity to do this.

He said that over the past one hundred years – from apparently irreconcilable national conflicts of interest, through the killing of Jews with industrial methods – Central Europe has arrived at the realization that “Each of us can only build our own home and freedom if we take part in the creation of a common home for us all.” He expressed the conviction that the citizens of Central Europe must get to know of each other’s successes, must share in each other’s troubles, and must solve disputes with mutual goodwill.

The commemorative concert was attended by the presidents of Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Germany: János Áder, Andrej Kiska, Bronisław Komorowski, Miloš Zeman and Joachim Gauck. Other attendees were Mihály Varga (Minister for National Economy), Zoltán Balog (Minister of Human Resources), Pál Schmitt (former president of Hungary), Péter Paczolay (President of the Constitutional Court) and Péter Polt (Chief Prosecutor).

(Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade)