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Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s speech at the official opening of the national headquarters of the Hungarian Scout Association, the Teleki–Tisza mansion

Distinguished Church and Secular Leaders, Dear Scouts, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I welcome the leaders of the Hungarian Scout Association – not only the present leaders, but also Hungary’s future scout leaders, who are no doubt also here in the audience. Perhaps they are still in shorts or in ponytails, and maybe they have only just sworn their oaths to serve God, their country and their fellow human beings. This is an oath which, over the course of just over a hundred years, has become a compass and reference point for millions of young people. Many of these later became renowned writers, academics, scientists, athletes, church and secular leaders – including three presidents of the United States. Among their numbers we even find five of the astronauts who walked on the Moon.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are here today to inaugurate this historically significant 170-year-old building, renovated at a cost of some 2.5 billion forints. We are handing it over to the Hungarian Scout Association – which was founded 106 years ago – and, through them, to the young people of Hungary. When you take possession of this mansion today, you see before you not only a beautiful modernised building, but the family home of two venerable aristocratic families, the former headquarters of Artúr Görgey, the home of Prime Minister István Tisza and the final quarters of Béla Király’s National Guard.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I’m not revealing a great secret when I say that the tradition, world-view and way of thinking of the Hungarian Scout Association and the Hungarian government stem from the same roots. Although we are independent of each other, we share the same values; and I sincerely hope that in the future, too, we can be allies in good causes. Our joint goal is to raise young people who believe in the values that have sustained the Hungarian people for a thousand years – surviving against the odds. For us it is natural to think in terms of country, family and a mutually supportive alliance. We believe in the unity of the Hungarian people across borders. We hold that the nation is not some contrivance, but a living community which we are all members of, and in which we can all live happy lives. This brave, ambitious thinking brought together Piarist fathers and Reformed Church student leaders, country teachers and those educating young workers. This brave, ambitious thinking has meant that while communist dictatorship forced scouts into emigration, into prison, exclusion and dispersal, after the fall of communism the many small streams merged into a single abundant river: Hungary’s most important youth organisation.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Scouts,

The building which we’re handing over to you in this ceremony today is not a gift, but an opportunity. It creates an opportunity for the Hungarian Scout Association to reach its full potential, to build communities, to organise conferences and training programmes, and to host national – or even international – meetings. It creates an opportunity for Hungarian scouting to reach the same heights that it achieved between the two world wars.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Scouts,

A great deal of work still has to be done in order to turn this opportunity into reality. A wise man once said that you can recognise an opportunity by the fact that it is in overalls and it looks like work. If we want to turn an opportunity into reality, we must always work hard to do so. This is true of scouting, and it’s equally true of state leadership and politics. Now, Dear Scouts, this is the work you are taking on. And we see that there’s plenty more work to do. We see that unless we take action, the modern age and new trends may continually undermine the cultural foundations which make the Scouts the Scouts, and Hungary a Hungarian country. Therefore today we need sturdy tents which are able to withstand the fiercest storms. And if we do our job well, this scout centre will not only be a storm-proof tent: it can also be a centre of power for 21st-century Christian democracy, which guarantees people’s dignity, freedom and security, protects the equality of men and women and the traditional family model, defends our Christian culture, and gives our nation a chance to continue to survive and thrive in the 21st century.

Dear Scouts, Dear Young People,

The world and Europe – including Hungary – will be what you make of it. Be proud of the oath that you have sworn and the knowledge that you have received from your leaders. Expand your horizons, and use the skills and knowledge you have acquired well as talents entrusted to you. You should always bear in mind what the organisation’s founder, Lord Robert Baden-Powell, wrote in his last message to scouts. I’m sure you know it, but let me quote it now: “But the real way to get happiness is by giving out happiness to other people. Try and leave this world a little better than you found it”. Therefore I ask you – in addition to striving to not take from the world, but preserve it as you found it – to be brave and make your own contributions. I ask your leaders to reach out to the very many more young people out there, and to continue working with the same enthusiasm as in recent years so that, through scouting, as many young Hungarians as possible obtain not virtual experiences but real-life experiences, and find real friendships that can last a lifetime.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Scouts,

Finally I’d like to thank you for the exemplary effort in preserving values with which members of the Hungarian Scout Association have helped in the renovation of this historic mansion. When we look around, we can see there is still a lot of work to be done. However, at this point in time perhaps we can already say that there is a good chance that this building will not only be the property of the Hungarian Scout Association, but also its home. Whatever your age, my wish for you all is that you may grasp by the tail an opportunity which has been given to you through a moment of grace which is exceptional in Hungary’s history. Let me return the greetings of your leader, who said – quoting your greeting – that you trust others and one another. On behalf of the Hungarian government I can say: thank you for having trusted us so far, and we hope to become worthy of your trust. Go for it Hungary, go for it Hungarians!

I wish you all the very best in your work.