2011. 10. 24.
"I pay tribute to the people who fought for freedom in Hungary in 1956. As we mark this national day, we must also pay homage to the victims – the 2500 Hungarians who died; the over 25 000 people imprisoned; and the 200 000 people who emigrated, many of them never to return.
It is often said that to understand the present one has to know the past. The history of Central and Eastern Europe was often a difficult one. We experienced war, invasions, political persecutions and the loss of our freedom. We all shared this history.
But there are moments that must always be remembered because they are part of a greater story, that of the road to democracy, freedom, and a re-united continent.
The Hungarian revolution of 1956 is such a moment. For two weeks the people of Hungary had a national government which had representatives from several political parties.
A first in our region after the Second World War. The Hungarian people showed the world that freedom, democracy; human rights are not abstract ideas but real values that you were willing to fight for. Too often we take these values for granted, until the day they are denied.
By remembering the past, we also safeguard the future.
In 1956 Hungary was unfortunately alone. Seven years ago, Hungary and other free Central and Eastern European nations joined the European Union. Now it is up to us, this generation of Europeans from both sides of the old iron curtain to decide how the 21st century will be in a reunited Europe and around the world."