Veszprém is a success story of renewed Hungary
In 2023, Veszprém is a European Capital of Culture, the city is a spectacular success story of the Hungary that embarked on a process of renewal in 2010, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in Veszprém, at the ceremonial opening of the ActiCity Dance and Movement Arts Centre.
The Prime Minister said by virtue of the developments and investments attached to the Capital of Culture title, Veszprém is again occupying its place on the imaginary podium of Hungary’s cities.
Veszprém is one of the most ancient cities of our history, characterised by civic culture that is almost tangible, Pannon education and self-awareness. “The people of Veszprém have always thought that being a resident of Veszprém also represented a higher quality,” and no one disputed that, Mr Orbán added.
In his address, the Prime Minister stressed that the government had wholeheartedly supported Veszprém’s bid to become a worthy European Capital of Culture, giving “Veszprém almost its last few available pennies as a queen cannot go to a ball in just any outfit.” The amount that was invested in the City of Veszprém is around a hundred billion forints, and as far as he can see, they made the right decision, Mr Orbán said.
The Prime Minister highlighted that in Veszprém people will be reassured in their faith that it is good to be Hungarian, and living as a Hungarian is a worthy form of human life.
He thanked Minister for Regional Development Tibor Navracsics who has always held that the European Capital of Culture programmes should be not only about the City of Veszprém itself, but also about another 116 settlements, and that they, too, should be given a share of this opportunity.
We have a lot to learn from the people of Veszprém who created a genuine community with the lakeshore settlements of Balaton in the vicinity and lifted them, too, into the developments and programmes of the Capital of Culture, all the way from Balatonberény to Várpalota, and from Marcali to Zirc, Mr Orbán said.
The Prime Minister thanked the European Union and the Brussels bureaucrats for having decided in favour of Veszprém, and so in favour of Hungary.
At the same time, he said Veszprém’s performance clearly shows that “if the Brussels bureaucrats are able to control their Hungarophobia which has now reached abundant proportions, then we – Hungary and Brussels – together are capable, would be capable of great things.” It is a pity that Veszprém’s example is the exception, rather than the rule, he observed.
The Prime Minister said the cooperation of European states has always been difficult and complex. The fact that the Roman Empire – of which Pannonia was a natural part – was defeated not by another empire, but by a variety of feisty tribes, and its territories were occupied by various tribes which then settled down there, decided Europe’s fate. It was decided that Europe would be populated by nations which had their own languages, their own cultures, their own instincts, he explained.
He added that this brought about rivalries, conflicts, territorial and power disputes, but ever since the fall of Rome, nation states have always had “a dream, a temptation,” to reunite in a single empire, to unite the former territories of Rome, meaning Europe.
“The Byzantine Empire, Charlemagne, Otto, Napoleon, Hitler all dreamed about European unity,” said the Prime Minister, taking the view that this continues to this very day. The notions of independent nationhood and empire are present all at once, so are national culture and European values, sovereignty and – as they say in Brussels – an “Ever Closer Union,” he added.
He took the view that if we are lucky, we will find the precarious balance between national sovereignty and European cooperation. If we are not lucky, “the scales will tip to one side,” and this will lead to “a minefield of national conflicts, or a bureaucratic power machinery” that abuses its power.
He said to reach a state of balance, we need tolerant and strong “leaders of the Pannon kind” who love equally their countries and Europe. Today they are “as rare as hen’s teeth.” Instead, we have intolerance, weakness, heartlessness.
He stressed that every form of European cooperation, including the European Union had been called to life by two objectives, two missions. Peace and welfare. Today, we are “in a war up to our necks,” and the economic situation and prospects are ever more alarming and ever more pessimistic. If it is unable to fulfil its original mission, then what is the European Union for? he asked.
He said if we fail to find the answer to this question, then even the days of fine customs and great programmes such as the European Capital of Culture are numbered.