Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban commemorated the failed uprising against the USSR in 1956 by accusing the European Union (EU) of seeking to dominate and strip Budapest of its identity. Speaking in the city of Veszprem on the anniversary, Orban drew parallels between the EU and the Soviet Union, likening the bloc’s methods to those of the former oppressive regime.
Orban stated, “Today, things pop up that remind us of the Soviet times. Yes, it happens that history repeats itself. Fortunately, what once was tragedy is now a comedy at best. Fortunately, Brussels is not Moscow. Moscow was a tragedy. Brussels is just a bad contemporary parody.” He argued that the EU has attempted to impose a model of liberal democracy that the Hungarian people have rejected. However, he also emphasized that unlike under Soviet control, Hungary now has the autonomy to resist and refuse to comply with EU demands.
Reflecting on Hungary’s four decades under Soviet rule, Orban remarked, “We had to dance to the tune that Moscow whistled. Brussels whistles too, but we dance as we want to, and if we don’t want to, then we don’t dance.” This statement highlights Orban’s belief that Hungary now has the freedom and agency to assert its own identity and resist external influences.
Hungary’s October 23 holiday is a significant date in the country’s history, marking the beginning of the 1956 revolution against Soviet control. The uprising was brutally suppressed by Soviet forces within 12 days. Orban has frequently used this occasion to draw comparisons between Soviet oppression and the actions of the EU. Last year, he made a prediction that the EU would eventually resemble the Soviet Union.
Orban has been at odds with the EU on various issues, including anti-Russia sanctions, illegal immigration, and LGBTQ rights. His recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Beijing further strained his relationship with Western allies. Orban has argued for a negotiated resolution to the Russia-Ukraine conflict and criticized the economic impact of sanctions on EU citizens.
In his speech, Orban suggested that Hungarians have a distinct perspective on freedom compared to their Western counterparts. He stated, “For Westerners, freedom means escape — get rid of yourself, get rid of what you were born into, change nation, change gender, change identity.” In contrast, Orban emphasized that Hungarians view freedom as a life instinct and are unwilling to sacrifice their national and cultural identity. He expressed that the very thought of abandoning their Hungarian, Christian, and gender identity is deeply unsettling for the Hungarian people.
Orban’s remarks reflect his ongoing defiance of EU policies and his commitment to preserving Hungary’s national identity. As he accuses the EU of imposing its ideals on member states, Orban asserts that Hungarians have the right to shape their own future and protect their traditions and values. Whether these tensions between Orban and the EU will lead to significant changes in Hungary’s relationship with the bloc remains to be seen.