PRAGUE, June 22, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. President George W. Bush spent today in Budapest, following his one-day summit with European leaders in Vienna on June 21.
During his visit to the Hungarian capital, the U.S. president honored Hungary's 1956 uprising against Soviet domination, in which some 2,500 Hungarians and 750 Soviet soldiers were killed.
During his speech marking the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian revolt, Bush draw several parallels between the war in Iraq and Hungary's struggle against communism.
"Iraq's young democracy still faces determined enemies," Bush said. "Defeating these enemies will require sacrifice and continued patience -- the kind of patience the good people of Hungary displayed after 1956."
He also placed Hungary, whose troops are today helping to train Iraqi security forces, alongside the United States as beacons of liberty in our world."
Stressing that "the success of the new Iraqi government is vital to the security of all nations," Bush called for the "support of the international community" in helping the Iraqi government "establish free institutions" and, in turn, to become an example of liberty.
A 'Tone Poem' About The Uprising
Earlier in the day, Hungarian President Laszlo Solyom told Bush that the United States and Hungary share the same values that Hungarians fought for in 1956: "freedom, democracy, national self-determination, human rights."
Bush laid a wreath at the eternal flame that burns as a memorial to the Hungarian Uprising, and delivered his speech on democracy from Gellert Hill, from where Soviet troops bombarded targets with mortars during some of the bloodiest fighting.
The Hungarian Uprising lasted just over two weeks but was by far the most violent benchmark of Eastern Europe's resistance to Soviet domination.
The uprising began on October 23, 1956, with a student demonstration in support of the reformist wing of Poland's communist party.
But when the crowd swelled to 100,000, Hungarian Security Police opened fire. Hundreds died.
At times during the subsequent fighting it looked as if the uprising might triumph. A reformist government was named and a new prime minister, Imre Nagy, declared his intention to take the country out of the Warsaw Pact, the communist bloc's security grouping.
But Soviet tanks, which began rolling in the day after the uprising started, arrived in large numbers on November 4. By November 10, the fighting was all but over.
White House spokesman Tony Snow told reporters in the run-up to Bush's visit to Budapest that "this is not a policy speech, it's kind of a tone poem about the 1956 revolution."
Aides say the U.S. president's speech was intended to focus on the uprising purely as an historical event and was in no way meant as a negative signal to Moscow.
Bush's trip to Budapest comes just a month before he is due to attend a summit of the world's eight leading industrialized states, the Group of Eight, in Russia's second city, St. Petersburg.