Hungary apologizes for its role in crushing the "Prague Spring"

Article published on Aug. 29, 2008
Article published on Aug. 29, 2008
August 29, 2008 President of Hungary László Sólyom expressed his “deep regret” over Hungary’s role in the occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968.
Speaking outside the House of Terror Museum on the 40th anniversary of the Soviet Bloc invasion of Czechoslovakia, Sólyom said that although the intervention was implemented by sheer force rather than by the will of the people, that does not exonerate Hungarians from responsibility. “We have something to be ashamed of,” he declared. “Twelve years after the Soviet army attacked Hungary and crushed the Hungarian revolution in a bloody war, Hungary's political regime put the country in the position of attacking another nation that wanted more freedom.” “Making an apology can remove a thorn,” Sólyom remarked, “if we make it obvious that we reassess the former events, if we pronounce the truth and if we restore justice.”

Hungary's President Laszlo Solyom also said that recent events in the Caucasus region had given a disquieting topicality to events in Czechoslovakia forty years ago and events in Hungary fifty-two years in the past. In a manner of speaking, there is a parallel between the armed conflict of Russia and Georgia and events of 1956 and 1968, he said, for the use of force and violence against a sovereign nation in opposition to international law was condemnable in 1956, 1968 and is condemnable today. Great powers have no right to use force to exert their will, he said.

Education and Culture Minister István Hiller also apologized on behalf of the government for Hungary’s role in crushing the Prague Spring.

On the night of August 20-21, 200,000 Warsaw Pact troops and 2,000 tanks entered Czechoslovakia and occupied the country by morning, effectively halting a period of political liberalization.