Mr. Orbán stated there must be appreciation of the fact that today Hungary has sovereignty, its own path, a strong economy, national cohesion spanning borders, and strong allies.
The Prime Minister described István Tisza as a national politician through and through, who did not serve the interests of classes, aristocratic factions, ideologies or economic interest groups, but the interests of the entire Hungarian nation. Mr. Orbán said that he understood the situation of Hungary, the Monarchy and Europe more accurately than any of his contemporaries.
Referring to the fact that Tisza was prime minister at the outbreak of World War I, Mr. Orbán spoke about the historical background of the times: “Even today it is hard to comprehend why, in the summer of 1914, Europe raised a gun to her head and […] pulled the trigger […] Yet the more we look into the facts, the more it seems that a bad decision was made in Vienna, then another in Berlin, a third in Saint Petersburg, a fourth in Paris and a fifth in London; and so many bad decisions combined to lead to a catastrophe that devastated the whole of Europe.”
He added that the shadow cast by several bad decisions rendered the Hungarians unable to make a good decision: “We were not a sovereign state, we were chained to a multi-ethnic empire, to a rock about to plunge to the depths – which reached the ground four years later and shattered into pieces.”
The Prime Minister stressed that today we are also living through a time in which world politics is undergoing a realignment, in which there is an increase in dangerous ideas which also endanger their adherents, and in which there is no shortage of European leaders “whose thinking extends no further than the following day’s headlines”.
“Today we also need to be alert, because if we let control of our fate slip out of our hands, we could lose our whole country”, Mr. Orbán said.
“One hundred years ago today the legendary politician of the Age of Dualism died a martyr’s death,” the Prime Minister stated, adding that “the shots that extinguished his life wounded the entire nation. His death traumatised Hungary in the same way as the deaths of Miklós Zrínyi and István Széchenyi.”
He said that István Tisza entered politics resolved to contribute at least one block to the foundations of the Hungarian nation’s future.
After wartime collapse, the devastation wrought by the Red Terror and the forced relinquishment of two thirds of the country, Mr. Orbán said, these building blocks represented the foundations which could be built on by Bethlen or Klebelsberg – the great Hungarian statesmen of the interwar period. He added that, even after a century, several of those building blocks are still present in the foundations upon which the Hungarian nation is now being built.
The Prime Minister also said that even István Tisza’s opponents, who came to power in the “Aster” putsch, did not know how to react to his death.
The leader of the “Socialist Operetta Republic” and his henchmen saw Tisza in the same light as Historical Hungary, Mr. Orbán said: they hated him because he was proud and strong, and because he was imbued with the consciousness of a people which had lived and survived in the heart of Europe for a thousand years. The Prime Minister observed that neither Tisza nor the country wanted to become what “the Red Count [Mihály Károlyi] and his associates” envisaged.
The Prime Minister stressed that Károlyi and his people wanted power, but could not rise to the greatness of the Hungarian people, and after they were abandoned by both the masses in Pest and by their supposed allies in the West, they found a direct route to the cells run by the communist leader Béla Kun.
After the speech, Mr. Orbán and the Speaker of Parliament László Kövér laid a wreath at the statue of István Tisza, following which a prayer was said by József Steinbach, Bishop of the Transdanubian Reformed Church Diocese.
Count István Tisza held the office of Prime Minister of Hungary between 1903 and 1905, and later between 1913 and 1917.
On 31 October 1918, during the so-called “Aster Revolution”, he was shot dead by four gunmen in military uniforms at his villa in Hermina út, Budapest.