“The Hungarian Government is launching a scholarship programme to support young people from persecuted Christian communities in the Middle East”, Minister of Human Capacities Zoltán Balog announced on Friday in Berlin at the International Prayer Breakfast Conference, which was attended by high ranking politicians and religious leaders from over fifty countries.

Following the event, the Minister told public media: “The scholarship programme, which includes full board, will enable one hundred young Christians from the Middle Eastern region to begin their studies at Hungarian universities on 1 September. The tenders have already been launched with the involvement of local religious leaders”.

Mr. Balog added that the initiative had been received with much appreciation at the Prayer Breakfast, at which he also said that the Government was already providing scholarships to hundreds of young Muslims who “have arrived in Hungary legally, respect our laws and our culture, and who will be friends to Hungary”.

“It is worth cooperating with us in this kind of ordered manner based on mutual respect”, the Minister said, adding that “anyone who obeys our laws and respects our culture is a welcome guest in Hungary”.

With regard to the Prayer Breakfast, which was held for the first time in Washington in 1953, and was attended by many high ranked politicians and religious leaders, Mr. Balog said the participants base their discussions on the fact that irrespective of differences in politics, ideology or world view there exists “a reality that brings people together, and this reality is the reality of religious faith”.

He stressed that modern statehood could not exist without the strength of faith, religion and religious communities, and that it was a “fundamental misunderstanding” that faith can be pushed out of public life and “driven back into the private sphere”.

“Faith is not a private matter”, Mr. Balog emphasised. Citing the speech by German Christian Democrat (CDU) politician and President of the Bundestag Norbert Lammer, he added that “A state cannot be founded without God, but God does not found states”; this is a task for people, and must be realised in such a way that the state corresponds to the moral laws of God and man.

Mr. Lammer also pointed out that 80 percent of the world’s population of almost seven billion profess to being religious, meaning that never before have there been so many religious people on Earth. “This represents a ‘positive force’, which must be mobilised”, the Minister of Human Capacities highlighted.

With relation to development in Hungarian-German relations, Mr. Balog said it was a great honour to have been the only foreigner to be invited to make a speech at the Prayer Breakfast. “Despite the political conflicts, the Germans “do not want to give up on Hungary and regard us as very important partners, and we do not want to give up on the strength of Hungarian-German relations either, which in addition to benefiting our two countries is primarily needed by Europe”, the Minister stressed.

On the sidelines of the Prayer Breakfast, Mr. Balog held talks with, amongst others, Norbert Lammer, Bavarian CSU politician and Bundestag Vice-President Johannes Singhammer, and Federal Minister of Health Herman Gröhe (CDU).

Mr. Balog told the press that “semi-publicly, during the course of friendly conversation, everyone is grateful” for Hungary’s efforts with relation to the migration crisis and for protecting its southern border, because protecting the EU’s external border also protects the German border, and people are to an increasing extent acknowledging that “Viktor Orbán was right”.

“We are not the ones who have changed; the European standpoint has caught up with us”, he added.

“This is indicated by the fact that throughout Europe a high priority is naturally being given to the protection of the external borders, adherence to immigration regulations and defending against terrorism. These are statements that ‘we have already made’, for instance one of the first proposals put forward by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was that there should be a joint European army, and this is now also being talked about by other heads of state”, Mr. Balog explained.

“This means that Hungary has achieved success, which of course people don’t particularly want to acknowledge, but it is enough for us that they are doing what leads in the right direction”, the Minister said.