22 June 2006

Hungary a Model for Iraq, Bush Says in Budapest

President commemorates 1956 Hungarian uprising against Soviet tyranny

Enlarge Photo
President Bush speaks from the hill in Budapest from which Soviet forces fired on the city in 1956. (White House photo)

Washington -- Speaking on a hill from which Soviet forces fired on Budapest in 1956 to put down a 12-day-old revolution, President Bush extolled Hungary June 22 as a country that “represents the triumph of liberty over tyranny” and provides a model for emerging democracies in the Middle East, particularly Iraq.

Earlier in the day, Bush laid flowers at a memorial to thousands of victims of the 1956 uprising.

Bush noted the presence in the audience of some of those who participated in the uprising, which was crushed half a century ago by Soviet tanks and troops.  “America honors your courage,” he said. “We've learned from your example, and we resolve that when people stand up for their freedom, America will stand with them.” (See related article.)

Iraq, too, faces determined enemies, Bush said. “Defeating these enemies will require sacrifice and continued patience -- the kind of patience the good people of Hungary displayed after 1956.”

He praised Hungarians for returning to the streets in 1989 and playing an instrumental role in bringing down the Iron Curtain that separated the communist bloc from the free world.

“The lesson of the Hungarian experience is clear: Liberty can be delayed, but it cannot be denied,” Bush said. “The desire for liberty is universal, because it is written by our Creator into the hearts of every man, woman, and child on this Earth. And as people across the world step forward to claim their own freedom, they will take inspiration from your example, and draw hope from your success.”

Bush pledged that the United States will stand by its commitment to help Iraqis rebuild their country and defeat the enemies of freedom. “Our commitment is certain, our objective is clear. The new Iraqi government will show the world the promise of a thriving democracy in the heart of the Middle East,” he said.

Earlier in the day Bush met with Hungarian President Laszlo Solyom at Sandor Palace. In his remarks before their meeting, Solyom thanked the United States for admitting more than 35,000 of the estimated 200,000 Hungarian refugees who fled the 1956 revolution’s bloody aftermath. Bush, in turn, thanked Hungary for its efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Bush also went to the Hungarian parliament, where he met with Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany and greeted political party leaders. 

Bush came to Budapest after participating in the U.S.-European Union Summit in Vienna, Austria. (See related article.)

During his speech in Budapest, Bush noted that Hungary is a member both of NATO and the European Union. “You know that the democratic journey is not easy, but you continue to make the tough decisions that are necessary to succeed,” he said. “America admires your perseverance, we welcome your progress, and America values our alliance with the free people of Hungary.”

He recounted instances of Hungarian leadership in advancing freedom, including the launching of the International Center for Democratic Transition in 2005 in Budapest and the deploying of Hungarian troops in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq.

By supporting the young democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq, Bush told the Hungarians, “you are strengthening two new allies in the war on terror, and you're bringing hope to millions of people in a vital region of the world.”

The transcript of Bush’s speech is available on the White House Web site, along with transcripts of his press availability with Solyom at Sandor Palace, his press availability with Gyurcsany at the Parliament Building, and his exchange of toasts with them both during a luncheon.

For additional information on U.S. policies, see Europe and Eurasia.

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)