Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for inviting me.
Honourable Mayor, Honourable Councillors, Honourable Recipients,
Today is Budapest’s birthday. On this day, five generations ago, there emerged an idea – a plan – for a magnificent city which our predecessors realised through decades of consistent and hard work. Thus, with the unification of Pest, Buda and Óbuda, the new pride of the Hungarian people – Budapest – was born and grew up before the eyes of our forebears’ generations. It is no exaggeration to say that for Hungarians Budapest is the eternal city: the city which belongs to every Hungarian, wherever they may live around the world; the city which awaits them. At its birth and ever since Budapest has been a national creation, a national achievement, a national success. The building of our capital is perhaps the greatest Hungarian communal achievement in our modern history. It is unique and unmatched, and therefore irreplaceable: a true national treasure. Budapest is simultaneously the heart of the Hungarian nation, the capital of the nation, and home to its residents. As home to the people of Budapest, the capital must function well, and be orderly, clean and beautiful. The task of ensuring this falls to the Mayor and the city’s leadership. As the nation’s capital, however, Budapest must also radiate dignity, pride and grandeur – and this is the joint task of the Government of Hungary and the leadership of Budapest. And if Budapest performs ever better in these two ways, it will also function as the natural centre of the Carpathian Basin – for obvious reasons of geography, size, economy, spirit and culture. The beauty of Budapest makes all our hearts beat stronger – especially when we come back home from abroad. But it has still not regained its former glory. This is something that we owe to our predecessors, and also to ourselves. The Government is convinced that Hungary can only become a country of consequence if its capital also commits to great endeavours.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today Budapest stands on the threshold of enormous development, and the next decade could be the most successful era in the city’s history. By 2030 Budapest could become one of the most liveable cities in Europe, boasting a high quality of life and the status of the continent’s safest capital. The conditions for this success – external and internal, financial and spiritual – are in place. No opportunity, however, is self-fulfilling: in order to capitalise on our opportunities, we will need hard, well-organised work jointly carried out by both the city leadership and the Government. Therefore, in agreement with the Mayor, we have established the Council for Metropolitan Public Developments, under the auspices of which we shall jointly develop and build Budapest.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Developments in a city the size of Budapest cannot be divided up to fit within terms of four or five years. Looking to the future we must of necessity think in terms of longer periods; and the time frame which suggests itself to our eyes, our imagination – and also our wallet – is one which extends more or less up to 2030. Planning on such a scale is not unusual in Budapest’s history: we need only think of our great predecessors’ enduring developments; the Steindl and Hauszmann plans were also realised over a period of approximately fifteen years. It is promising that the progress we have made over the past few years is a strong encouragement for us to continue. Between 1998 and 2002, during the term of the first national government, we built the new National Theatre, created the House of Terror Museum as a home for national remembrance, and also completed the Millenary Park. And since 2010 – when voters gave both Mayor Tarlós and our government another chance – we have been making great strides. Together we have achieved the following: we have built – or completed – the capital’s new metro line; we have elevated Budapest’s public transport system to a new level with the network of interconnecting tram lines; we have refurbished the Parliament Building and Kossuth tér, the main square of the nation; we have restored the Music Academy and the Buda Vigadó to their former glory; we have reopened the Erkel Theatre, which serves as the people’s opera house; we have renovated the Museum of Fine Arts, which has recently reopened its doors, and the same is true for the Ludovika Complex, which has created a new city quarter; the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design – MOME – has come into being; and we have built the Danube Arena. The city’s time-honoured sports clubs Fradi [Ferencváros] and MTK have been given new homes, the Honvéd and Vasas sports clubs will also have new stadia in the near future, and the national Puskás Stadium will also be completed. The renewal and refurbishment of the City Park, the Opera House, the Museum of Applied Arts and Metro Line 3 are under way. The Council for Metropolitan Public Developments will soon need to adopt a decision on the new national pentathlon centre. One by one, the historical buildings of the Buda Castle District are regaining their former glory, and construction of the new South Buda priority hospital will also begin soon. We have a lot of work ahead of us, and the task we are undertaking is enormous. We are thinking in terms of thousands of billions of forints and a period of ten years. We can only successfully accomplish such a mission if we learn from our predecessors, and therefore today we are reviving an alliance which was formed and proved effective once before, when our city underwent its first major period of construction. Back then the trustee of the great joint enterprise between the Government and the people of Budapest was called the Council of Metropolitan Public Works. Today, with the establishment of the Council for Metropolitan Public Developments, we are recreating an alliance between the Government and the people of Budapest which has already proved its worth once before. At the same time we are strengthening the spiritual link which ties every Hungarian to the greatest Hungarian city: Budapest. A strong Hungary needs a thriving Budapest in the ascendant, while if Budapest seeks to regain its former glory it needs the strength and support of the whole of Hungary.
Happy birthday. God bless Budapest!