In his speech, Mr. Orbán said that when as Prime Minister he first convened the Kossuth and Széchenyi Prize Commission, his first question was where they could find fourteen or fifteen nominees every year. Then every year, he said, it transpired that his concerns were unfounded, because “our supply was never exhausted”. This, he noted, is an indication of Hungary’s true strength.
The Prime Minister quoted the Hungarian-born chemist, Nobel laureate and Széchenyi Grand Prize winner George A. Olah, who said that “We must invest in our future, and the best investment that a country can make in its future is to educate its young people”. Mr. Orbán said that these words “weigh down upon us with the force of a testament”.
The Prime Minister added that he has much to thank Professor Olah for: when in the late 2000s he visited the scientist – who passed away in the United States in March, and whose ashes were laid to rest in Budapest on Tuesday – Mr. Orbán asked him what he attributed his great record of achievement to. “I had excellent opponents”, Professor Olah replied.
“This clearly shows that even a master of the practically incomprehensible chemical sciences can say something that can be useful to a politician”, the Prime Minister noted.
Mr. Orbán also spoke about the fact that the Hungarian nation spent centuries in the “backyard” of other empires, and has been haunted by prophecies such as “our language and memory will both be forgotten” and “we will become dissolved in the sea of surrounding peoples”.
“And when the twentieth century dawned on us, we realised that this prophecy could in fact come true”, he said. There was only one possibility left for the Hungarian people, who had been left without kinsfolk, had been stripped of their resources and made the plaything of the Great Powers, he said: to prove their own vitality. And the way a nation can prove this, he declared, is with “added value” – achieved through scientific results of an international standard and of international acclaim. “We are proud of you, who – in defiance of Johann Gottfried Herder’s prophecy of our doom – have accepted the mission that we must all continue to undertake, even in the twenty-first century”, the Prime Minister declared.