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Bush Hails Hungarian Democracy, Marks Anniversary Of 1956 Uprising


President Bush says the 1956 Hungarian uprising against communism has provided a lesson to the world. Mr. Bush spoke to the Hungarian people from a Budapest hillside steeped in history.

The president spoke from Gellert Hill, which towers over the streets of Budapest and the waters of the Danube River that cuts through the city.

As he prepared to speak, there were echoes of a day almost 50 years ago that began in hope and ended in blood.

On November 4, 1956, Soviet tanks rolled into Budapest to crush a popular uprising against communism that began just days earlier, on October 23. Prime Minister Imre Nagy went on the radio to announce the assault on Hungary's short-lived revolution.

The Soviets bombarded targets in Budapest with mortar fire from a massive fortress on Gellert Hill, not far from the spot where the president stood.

"Fifty years ago, you could watch history being written on this hill," said President Bush.

President Bush said the Hungarian people proclaimed their liberty in the streets below the hill, and the Red Army took it away.

"They crushed the Hungarian uprising, but not the Hungarian people's thirst for freedom," he said.

The West did not respond to appeals for help at the time, and Mr. Bush said they learned a lesson - that those who are free must help those who seek freedom. He said the sacrifices of the Hungarians, who gave so much in 1956, are an example to the world.

"You know that the democratic journey is not easy," he said. "But you continue to make the tough decisions that are necessary to succeed."

The president noted that Hungary is helping in the Balkans, in Afghanistan, and in Iraq. He said the Hungarians know only too well the challenges facing Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

"Iraq's young democracy still faces determined enemies, people who will use violence and brutality to stop the march of freedom," he said. "Defeating these enemies will require sacrifice and continued patience, the kind of patience the good people of Hungary displayed after 1956."

The speech was the last event on the president's brief trip to Europe. His first stop was Vienna for summit talks with the leadership of the European Union that focused largely on Iran, trade, energy issues, and the fate of the U.S. detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

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