In a welcome speech at a gala dinner in honour of the latest winners of the Kossuth Prize, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that Hungary’s newly-built economic system is now in operation, and as a result this year funding for Hungarian culture will amount to HUF 65 billion more than last year.

In his speech, published on miniszterelnok.hu, the Prime Minister said that “This is a daring statement, but I venture to say that in Hungary soon the limits on creativity will not be availability of funds, but the limits of our own talent”, adding: “Let’s put those limits to the test!”

Photo: Gergely Botár/kormany.hu

The Prime Minister stated that Europe is on the verge of times which will be great, but full of disruption: the hierarchy of nations will be rearranged; culture is important, and in the future it will matter even more. He added that, during the unsettled times ahead, the quality and attractiveness of our national culture will be a trump card in our hands. He told the prize-winners that people will be counting on them. 

The Prime Minister extended a special welcome to the winner of the Kossuth Grand Prize, ethnographer Zoltán Kallós, whose vitality was described by Mr. Orbán as an encouragement to us all. 

In relation to the national day, Mr. Orbán observed that at times like this, when one must write a speech, one reads Petőfi, Arany and Eötvös. Leafing through these writings from the past, he said, one can see that the structure of things has effectively remained the same. He noted that the causes and circumstances, the spirit of the age or the trends surrounding those writers’ works may be different. Nevertheless, he continued, in essence the nature and structure of things – and the challenge which must be faced by Hungarian culture and all other national cultures – has remained the same for centuries. 

On the one hand there are attempts at global multiculturalism which seek to blend the special characteristics of peoples, he said; and on the other hand, there is the wider spread of foreign, unfamiliar cultures – in other words contemporary mass population movement from the South and the East. 

Mr. Orbán stressed that in 2017 – just as in 1848 – Hungarian language and culture form the axis of our lives. 

The gala dinner was attended by several members of the Government: Minister of Human Capacities Zoltán Balog; Minister of Agriculture Sándor Fazekas; Minister of National Economy Mihály Varga; and Minister of Interior Sándor Pintér.

The Kossuth and Széchenyi Prizes were presented in the Parliament Building on Wednesday. Ethnographer Zoltán Kallós received the Kossuth Grand Prize, and twenty-nine people were presented with Kossuth Prizes and Széchenyi Prizes – three of which were shared by more than one person. Twelve people were decorated with different classes of the Hungarian Order of Merit.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)