Speech by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán at the inauguration of the Hungarian Centre for Education and Culture’s student hall of residence
28 November 2019, Osijek/Eszék
You see that Hungarian is a long language. I’d like to contribute to today’s ceremony with a few brief sentences. First of all, I welcome the Honourable Prime Minister. I’m honoured to welcome the people of this city – Croatians and Hungarians alike. I bring you Hungary’s greetings. I would like to leave you with three thoughts. The first is that I would like to thank Croatians living in Hungary for having remained Croatian, and for thereby contributing to Hungary’s diversity and richness.
I thank Hungarians living in Croatia for remaining Hungarian, and thereby adding to the Hungarian nation. I thank the Prime Minister for creating this building. We Croatians and Hungarians know each other well. We are both proud peoples, and shows of gratitude are not the strong suit for either of us. So all I will say, Dear Andrej, is that the Hungarian people are very thankful. The second thought I’d like to share with you is about this region’s development.
Eighty, ninety or a hundred years ago, Slavonia and Baranya County in Hungary were among our countries’ richest regions. We were envied, or to be more precise, you were envied not only because of your culture, but also because of your high standard of living. I don’t believe that something we were once capable of in our history cannot be repeated again. I believe that Slavonia here and Baranya County in Hungary will again become envied regions of Hungary and Croatia. We all know that this is not the situation today, and we have to ask why this is not the case. If you ask Croatians here, they’ll say that they live on the northern edge of Croatia; if you ask Hungarians in Baranya County, they’ll say that they live on the southern edge of Hungary.
People and communities who believe that they live on the edge of something will never succeed. Success will only be achieved by those who believe that the place where they live is “the centre of the world”. Therefore it’s clear what we need to do: we must link our countries together. If we remain on the edge and remain isolated, we will fail. When Croatia finally enters the Schengen Area – something we wholeheartedly support – the last obstacle will have been removed, and there will be free movement between Hungary and Croatia. There will be free movement for culture, sport and business, and the sphere of political relations can be enlivened. And if that happens, the northern edge of Croatia and the southern edge of Hungary could become “the centre of the world” again: an envied region. I know that some of you here will now think that I’m a dreamer; that’s true, but if you don’t have great plans, you won’t achieve results. Believe me that what I’m talking about is possible. And with God’s help – if for another ten years Croatia continues to have a government with the same commitment as the one it has today, and for another ten years Hungary also continues to have a government committed to the nation – Andrej and I will come back here to see whether we were right. Believe me that in ten years’ time what you will see here will be a totally different world.
Finally, I’d like to share a thought with young people. These days it’s fashionable to leave one’s country. This is a problem not only for you, for Croatians, but also for Hungarians. And I understand this. When you’re young you feel that the whole world is yours, you can take on all-comers, and there’s nothing wrong with going away and learning. Indeed there’s nothing wrong with gaining experience. But, young Croatians and Hungarians of Osijek, eventually you’ll realise that the most important thing you could have in life is to have a country, a home to come back to, where there are people looking forward to your return, and where you’re not outsiders. And there’s only one place like that: your motherland. Even if you leave, young citizens of Osijek, the two governments are working to create a place here that’s worth coming back to. In Hungary this process has already started, and what has started in Hungary will also happen in Croatia. So go abroad, study, and then come back. Make Osijek great, make Slavonia great, make Baranya County great, and make Hungary great.
God bless you all. I wish you every success. Thank you.