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Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s laudation address at the presentation of the Order of the Grand Cross to Sándor Lezsák

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Guests,

I welcome the Honourable Deputy Speaker. In presenting the Grand Cross to Sándor Lezsák, today Hungary is repaying an old debt. While he is admirably modest about the fact, it is nonetheless an established historical fact that in 1987 the overthrow of communism in Hungary was launched from his garden. Although this is an important – and indeed fascinating – fact, one that would justify making him the subject of a documentary, it would not be enough to earn him Hungary’s highest honour. Mr. Lezsák is not receiving this decoration for what he started, but for what he has seen through and completed. I remember that in the 1980s many waited for the end of communism, but far fewer dared to do something about it; and only the bravest of them openly linked their names, faces and homes to the emerging uprising. Yes, Mr. Lezsák was the first intellectual from rural national cultural circles to recognise that, after years of covert seething resentment and a series of vain attempts to find allies among the ruling elite, the time had come for open confrontation. He had already seen that there would be a time when anything could happen, and no one could predict the consequences of open speech or words put down in writing. Therefore the time had come to organise ourselves. And in this tense situation, Mr. Lezsák decided to organise a fateful meeting of the opposition.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Honourable President,

There are people who in their lives are able to create enduring work in a number of areas. Mr. Lezsák is one of those people. At the same time, despite his outstanding political career and important literary oeuvre, we can also clearly see that he is still what he has always been: an advocate and humble servant for the Hungarian nation and Hungarian culture. We marvel at how, even today, he works with the same vigour and determination as he did three decades ago: as many times before, he holds the office of Deputy Speaker of the House, as well as other positions; he manages the Hungarian community college movement; and he arranges the affairs of the Mindszenty Society. Many see him as a mysterious figure, an éminence grise, an inscrutable organiser of Hungarian politics. The reality, however, is far simpler than political puzzle-solvers or modern-day Kremlinologists believe. Behind every decision, every movement, every initiative, there is a single motivation: Sándor Lezsák works to restore the self-esteem of the Hungarian people across the entire Carpathian Basin. According to his Hungarian Bible, without national self-esteem there is no Hungarian future. And the self-esteem of the whole nation is the sum total of the self-esteem of individuals. This leads us to the simple conclusion that our task is no less than imbuing emerging generations of Hungarians with the notion that being Hungarian is the greatest thing that could have happened to them. This is the kind of love that stays with one for life: love that can raise one to unimagined heights, or drag one down to unfathomable depths. Hungarians are fortunate, because their lives can never become empty or devoid of significance. They will never be threatened by “the unbearable lightness of being”, or a sense of futility; and so any doubt about the meaning of existence will remain far from their lives. We thank you for spending decades being a proclaimer and an advocate of that love.

Honourable Deputy Speaker,

We ask you to accept this decoration as a sign of gratitude from the entire Hungarian nation. God bless you on your seventieth birthday, and may He keep you with us in good strength and health for many more years to come.