If it cannot fulfil its original mission, what's the point of the European Union? – Orbán

May 12. 2023. – 12:43 PM


If it cannot fulfil its original mission, what's the point of the European Union? – Orbán
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán speaking at the opening of the ActiCity Dance and Movement Centre in Veszprém on 12 May 2023 – Photo: Szilárd Koszticsák / MTI


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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán visited the Hungarian town of Veszprém on Friday morning, where he gave a speech at the opening of ActiCity, the new Centre for Dance and Movement Arts, which was established with the support of the European Capital of Culture (ECC) program.

Orbán spoke at the opening ceremony of the centre at 10.30 a.m. on Friday morning. The Prime Minister opened the event by saying,

"In 2023, talking about Veszprém is easy and rewarding, while talking about Europe is difficult and requires circumspection".

Veszprém is a "spectacular success story", he said, and the developments and investments will enable the city to take its place on the imaginary podium of Hungarian cities once again. "Civic culture, Pannonian culture and self-awareness are almost tangible here", the Prime Minister said of Veszprém. "The government wholeheartedly supported Veszprém's bid to become a worthy European Capital of Culture," Orbán said.

The Prime Minister said that Veszprém is the city of the queen, (Hungary's first king, Stephen had given the town as a gift to his wife, and consequently, all Hungarian queens were crowned by the Bishop of Veszprém – TN)and

the government had "pretty much given its last penny to Veszprém, because a queen cannot go to the ball in any old frock".

The amount invested by the government is around 100 billion, he said. "What has happened here is something every Hungarian can be proud of, both at home and abroad," he stressed.

"We thank the European Union, we thank the bureaucrats in Brussels who made the decision, for making a decision in favour of Veszprém, and thus Hungary. Veszprém's performance shows that if the Brussels bureaucrats can overcome their well-developed Hungarophobia, then we together, Hungary and Brussels, are – could be – capable of great things. It is a pity that the example of Veszprém is the exception and not the rule," Orbán said.

"Byzantium, Charlemagne, Otto, Napoleon, Hitler all dreamed of European unity on different grounds. And this is still the case today: the idea of an independent national existence and the idea of empire are both present. National culture and European values. Sovereignty and, as they say in Brussels, "an Ever Closer Union," Orbán explained.

The prime minister said that in order to maintain a balance between national sovereignty and the idea of empire, we need leaders who are tolerant and strong, who love both their country and Europe, "like the leaders of Pannonia were". "This is extremely rare today. Instead, we see intolerance, weakness, and heartlessness".

"The modern form of European cooperation, the European Union, was born with two goals, two missions: peace and prosperity. Today we are in a war up to our neck, and the economic situation and prospects are increasingly worrying and gloomy.

If it cannot fulfil its original mission, what is the point of the European Union? – that is the question the Lord of all History has inscribed in the sky with his finger of warning, and if we do not find the answer, the days of fine traditions such as the European Capital of Culture will be numbered,"

he said. "Today we are here to celebrate and let us be glad that we still have something to celebrate," he concluded.

Veszprém is this year's European Capital of Culture, and to mark the occasion the government has supported a number of investments in the city. The year's events kicked off with a grand opening on 21 January. The Veszprém-Balaton region, along with Timisoara and Elefsina, will be the European Capital of Culture in 2023. Since 1985, nearly 70 cities have been awarded the title, the last Hungarian city to receive the title was Pécs in 2010.

The town's new Dance and Movement Arts Centre, ActiCity was also funded as part of the Veszprém-Balaton 2023 European Capital of Culture program. According to the centre's Facebook page, in addition to the rehearsal rooms, there is a performance space for dance, a music hall suitable for pop- and and classical music performances, an outdoor stage, a restaurant and café, a car park with 150 spaces and a shaded recreation park linked to the green corridor of the city centre.

There have also been some interesting grants connected to the funding of the ECC programs:

  • One of the organising companies of the ECC, for example, which won a HUF 50 million grant is partly owned by a man whose brother is a member of the board of directors of the tendering company Veszprém-Balaton 2023 Ltd.
  • There was also a bit of work for Lőrinc Mészáros (PM Orbán's childhood friend who has become Hungary's wealthiest man in the last decade -TN): the Várbörtön (castle dungeon) in Veszprém will be renovated by VEMÉR-SZER LLC and Lőrinc Mészáros' family company FEJÉR-B.Á.L. Zrt. The public procurement is conditional, which means that the contract will only come into force if the HUF 457 million forints needed for the renovation are received in time.
  • Other companies close to the government have also been awarded contracts in the Veszprém ECC project, such as WHB, which will build a car park in the city in partnership with VEMÉR-SZER Kft. for a net amount of HUF 2.2 billion.
  • And a former Fidelitas (Fidesz' youth division -TN) member's sushi bar in Veszprém benefited from the funding as well.

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