“Hungarians are culturally expanding, regardless of the crisis,” Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said at the opening of the House of Hungarian Music in Budapest on Saturday, Hungarian Culture Day.
Orbán said Europe is going through “difficult times” as waves of the pandemic and migration follow each other, and the continent’s political, military, economic and cultural weight diminishes compared to the rest of the world.
While the pandemic has closed or reduced cultural institutions elsewhere, in Hungary it is “thriving”, he added.
He noted that Hungary is tied in the European Union for the highest share of public spending on culture, adding that Hungarians identify themselves as a “nation of culture”.
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Orbán said Hungarians “can feel at home” in the building, the “excellent work” of Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto.
He added that the building does not “impose itself on its surroundings” in the Budapest City Park, but “organically integrates, conforms and harmonises” with it.
Orbán said that the position of opposition politicians against the Liget Budapest project, which aims to rehabilitate the capital’s municipal park, will not be forgotten. It is no coincidence, he added, that “the mayor had other commitments today”.
He said the left wing had “defended something that was run down”, while “standing against something beautiful, world class and inspirational”.
Orbán said he would resist the “temptation of political revenge” on Hungarian Culture Day, but added that “we will deal with them in April”, in reference to the upcoming general elections.
He acknowledged that the Liget project was “half finished” and said voters could “finally put an end to the debate in April”.
Orbán said political debates in Europe today that pit “globalization against Christian heritage, bureaucracy in Brussels against national pride, immigration against family support, and gender politics against child protection “, put high culture and its mission in a new light.
The conflict, he said, is not between West and East, but between West and West, and it poses the threat of “cultural alienation”.
“We want to keep Europe as a whole, and we have to do something about cultural alienation,” he added.
He said high culture commands respect and attention in today’s “turmoil of Babel”.
“If there is a higher goal that music – Hungarian music too – can achieve, then this is it,” he added.