June 22, 2006

Bush visits Hungary, commemorates '56 revolution

Bush: Hungarian revolt should inspire Iraq

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) -- President Bush on Thursday acknowledged Iraq's turbulent transition to democracy, but said Hungary's decades-long struggle to break the grip of Soviet oppression underscores the power of freedom.

"The lesson of the Hungarian experience is clear," Bush said in the courtyard of Buda Castle where he celebrated the coming 50th anniversary of Hungary's bloody revolt against communist rule. "Liberty can be delayed, but it cannot be denied," the president said.

Bush noted that Hungarian soldiers are helping to train Iraqi security forces, and played a vital role in Operation Iraqi Freedom by providing security and delivering food and medical supplies to coalition forces. In Afghanistan, Hungarian soldiers have rebuilt schools and a medical center, and have helped train Afghan police, Bush said.

"This is important work," he said. "By supporting these two young democracies, you are strengthening two new allies in the war on terror and you are bringing hope to millions of people in a vital region of the world."

Earlier, Hungarian President Laszlo Solyom also paid tribute to his country's difficult emergence from behind the Iron Curtain, yet he gently nudged Bush to make sure that the U.S.-led fight against terrorism doesn't stomp on human rights.

"This fight against terrorism can be successful only if every step and measure taken are in line with international law," Solyom told Bush in a gilded room at the Sandor Palace.

Bush's commemoration of the 1956 uprising was more than four months early.

Communists seized control of the Hungarian government in the late 1940s. In 1956, the Hungarian people revolted against the communist oppression, but Soviet troops crushed the revolution. Pro-Soviet forces fired on a crowd of 100,000 peaceful protesters and killed more than 500. The following month, armored Soviet divisions rolled into Budapest, brutally crushing the revolt and leaving thousands dead in the fighting.

I'm glad President Bush stopped in Hungary after the U.S.-EU Summit and that he and the First Lady placed a wreath at the memorial.

Secretary Rice and the State Department were wonderful this past February.

Random factoid: Didju know, that a Hungarian officer, Colonel Michael de Kovats, founded the US Cavalry? From wikipedia:

Hungarian born noblemen, he became officer in Hungarian Cavalry under Maria Theresa, later captain in the famous Prussian Cavalry under Frederick the Great. After hearing about the American uprising, he offered his sword to the US Ambassasor to France, Benjamin Franklin. The US Congress made him Colonel-Commander of the legendary Pulaski Legion. He recruited, trained, organized, and led into battle the first ever American Cavalry.
He's even got a statue.


Posted by Kyer at June 22, 2006 11:45 AM | TrackBack