Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen.
There is an English joke: “Before I give my speech I’d like to say something.” That is also how I see this. When I was arriving, approaching this building, it occurred to me that this is how we picture the future: a lot of children – what is more, children who look well-disciplined and well-mannered – who are committed to collective work, achievement, togetherness, one result, one landmark, one useful building. It is something that will make the people of Gödöllő prouder of their town, and something that will make not only the people of Gödöllő prouder, but the whole country prouder: no matter where in the country one comes from, one can say that we Hungarians can do this. When we talked about this project, we reiterated our earlier idea that when we build something new it must be built to a quality that stands comparison with anything in any country in Europe. And it must not only be able to stand comparison with anything in any country, but it must also be unique. The quality of any building is determined by whether we can answer this question: Why is it here? If we look at this building, we can give this answer: it is a Hungarian building. It is not built as a cube – as is usual in modern architecture – that has been ingeniously designed from the inside out. Even if you are not one of those who are informed enough to be able to name architects, and I am not part of that small circle, looking at it from the outside you can see straight away that it somehow fits into what we call the Hungarian architectural tradition. This is a Hungarian building which follows Hungarian tradition. It is not standing just anywhere, but here, in Hungary – and here in the town of Gödöllő.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to greet all of you here today. I will not recognise everyone, but I have already greeted the students and their teachers, and if there are parents here, I respectfully greet them. I likewise greet the Rector, the President and your Member of Parliament. I see that the President of the Swimming Federation is here, who has a share in the glory of some Olympic gold medals, and I also respectfully greet our Olympic champions. I see the Mayor at the back – God bless you, and thank you very much for coming. I also see mayors from the surrounding area, and I salute them too. Some of my older fellow parliamentary representatives are here, and it’s good to see you. The Deputy Speaker of Parliament is here, and our former Minister of Agriculture is here. Welcome, Dear Sándor, Sándor Fazekas from Karcag. I think I have greeted everyone I needed to greet.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to say a few words about what has happened in Hungary since 2010 in terms of swimming pools. The President of the Swimming Federation is here, and he can bear witness to the fact that we have a big – not so secret – plan, a huge development plan, which was drawn up by the Swimming Federation. This was accepted by the Government, but the pandemic cut our plans in half, and therefore we had to reschedule its implementation. The latter is about the following: how many swimming pools will be built in Hungary; how we will transport children there, by bus if necessary; how many instructors we will have to employ there for how many hours a day; how we will pay them; and how this will work for many, many years until we get to the point at which every Hungarian schoolchild will be able to swim, and the most talented ones will be able to swim competitively. That is the future. The history that gives us the basis for such ambitious plans is that, since 2010, 180 billion forints has been invested in swimming pools, with 35 built, 43 under construction and 10 renovated. Of course this is also important from the viewpoint of sport, but to the students in particular I say that we are doing all this not only for sport itself, but also because we are convinced that sport is good for growing children. It is one of the most important tools – or perhaps the most important tool – available to us for children’s upbringing: sport teaches us to be confident, strong people; and it teaches us what a great feeling it is when – with perseverance and courage – we can achieve results through our own efforts. Sport also helps us to know ourselves better, and to love our own country better. While we ourselves may not be able to become Olympic champions, there is no greater feeling than when we see the Hungarian flag raised and hear the Hungarian national anthem played in honour of our Olympic champions in a distant part of the world. This is when you feel proud of your country. Sport gives us all these experiences.
At this point we need not talk about the past, but in order to assess the journey we have made we need to make a comment about it. And so I would like to briefly remind everyone – with only a little exaggeration – that before 2010 Hungarian sport was on the verge of disappearing. In terms of funding, maintenance costs, infrastructure and training professionals, we were confronted with the fear that Hungarian sport – one of the main pillars of our national pride, which symbolises, or can symbolise, Hungarian standing in international competitions – would simply disappear like a waning moon. I prepared for today’s event by adding up the figures, and so I can tell you that since 2010 we have spent 2.1 trillion forints of funding on sport. This is a huge amount. And the number of registered athletes has reached 560,000. Ten years ago there were fewer than 300,000, which is why I say that Hungarian sport had been condemned to a slow death. Now we have doubled the number of registered athletes, and in ten years the budgetary expenditure on it has doubled. Now, that is more or less the future we imagine for ourselves.
When we hand over a project, we cast a veil over any controversy accompanying its creation; because, in the end, all that is left is the name of the builders and the result. The debates that led us to its completion all fade from memory. If someone wants to read about truly bloody debates with little elegance, I would advise them to read the debates that preceded the building of the Hungarian parliament. They were so intense, so violent, that it is hard to imagine them today. But today no one remembers those debates: the only thing people remember is that all over the world we are famous for the superb building that stands on the bank of the Danube. I think that this will also be the case with this swimming complex in Gödöllő. We are keeping our earlier promises, and we have not only built this swimming complex, we are also building a fencing hall – perhaps it has already been completed – and we are also going to build an ice rink. In the last seven years this town has not only benefited from sports-related developments, but there has also been other investment of around 30 billion forints : a crèche and a railway station. The Mayor is here, and I can perhaps afford to ironically observe that this is what it is like when a town is oppressed by the governing parties. What would it be like if we supported it, Ladies and Gentlemen! But that is all in the past. Let us be happy that ever more great investments are being made here.
I must also say a word about the University’s paradigm shift. This is one of the most important new endeavours over the last few years, and I hope that it will be a successful one. Hungary was proud of the University of Agriculture. We must not underestimate the work of those who have managed to ensure that it still exists; but we must acknowledge the fact that we are all entering a new world. Everything has changed: technology is simply imposing the need to change, and unless we do so we will just disappear from the ranks of agricultural economies – even though this was once Hungary’s greatest achievement in contributing to the world economy. We cannot allow this. We will spend a total of 2.7 trillion forints on universities, on development and on this university. Of this, more than 200 billion forints will go to Gödöllő. I truly hope that we can increase this amount, depending on the agreements we can reach with the University on the development of university sport.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
By developing our universities in this way, by spending more than 2 per cent of our GDP on this, we will rise to be among the best in Europe. I am delighted to have been able to say all this to you. In conclusion, I have just one more duty to fulfil: to express my thanks. I would like to thank all those whose work is extolled by the building behind us. I thank the designers, the builders, the engineers and the construction workers for their efforts and achievements. May students gain much joy from this building, and may it help them to remain healthy. Speaking of Olympians, Áron Szilágyi – not a swimmer, but whose unique world-beating genius in Hungarian sport saw him win Olympic fencing golds at three consecutive Olympics – coined a saying that I use as a motto. To quote him, “What is enough today will not be enough tomorrow.” This is true of almost everything – with the possible exception of the banking tax. But that is another subject altogether.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to thank you once again for kindly attending. God bless you all! I wish you much strength and good health!
Go Hungary, go Hungarians!