Friends of Budapest agree on the indisputable assertion that Budapest is the nation’s capital, Gergely Karácsony, the city’s mayor, said at a gala evening at Vígszínház marking the 150th anniversary of Budapest’s unification, late on Friday. Budapest is “unshakable in its Hungarianness”, Karácsony said, adding that over the last 150 years, the capital had also earned the right to be called “Hungarian and European”. He said “the first among the historical truths” about Budapest was that the city had been founded not out of an interest of power, but in spite of it. And even today, he said, this was how the capital was striving to earn its future. “This city is indestructible,” Karácsony said. “Some cities are forever, like Rome, and some cities always rise again, like Budapest,” the mayor said, noting that Budapest had been one of the most often besieged cities in the world, with sixteen attempts made to conquer it.
Budapest is a city that survives and can adapt, but is also capable of carrying out revolutions, Karácsony said. The mayor said Budapest bore a “double burden” for the WWI Trianon Peace Treaty. Not only was it labelled the “guilty city”, but it’s mere existence calls attention to the tragedy of Hungarian territory being ceded to neighbouring countries because it is “too big, too diverse and too rich compared with the country that had been tormented and deprived of cultural diversity”, he said.
Karácsony said Budapest was not just the nation’s capital, but also the driving force of the country’s economy and “the heart of its cultural point of view”. Budapest belongs to its residents and all those who are part of the nation, either within or beyond the border, he said. “Another truth of Budapest is that there’s no such thing as ‘Budapest or the countryside’,” Karácsony said. “There’s only Budapest and the countryside, our shared homeland.” There can be no diverse and free Budapest without a diverse and free local council, Karácsony said, adding that it was not the right or the left, but Budapest residents who held power in the city. “In this city, everyone is free to love their homeland the way they want,” Karácsony said. “But we know that unity is only possible if no one is being told in the name of any ideology how they ought to love the homeland,” he said.