by H.E. Mr. Arpad Gönez, President of the Republic of Hungary
Mr. Secretary General, Ambassadors, ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure and honour for me to have the opportunity, for the first time, to visit the Headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It is with very good feelings that I recall my meetings with former and current leaders of this organization such as the most recent one that I had with Secretary General Solana last April in Budapest. I am therefore particularly delighted to be able to reciprocate these visits.
I am attaching more than just symbolic importance to the fact that our present meeting can take place in the year 1996.
This year, our country is celebrating the 1100th anniversary of the foundation of the State of Hungary through which the Hungarian people committed itself, once and for all, to the accession to Europe. Today, eleven centuries later, after a half a century-long, artificial, unnatural and forced separation our country is in the midst of the process of integrating into the Euro-Atlantic structures. I am convinced that the reintegration is an indispensable precondition for Hungary to reoccupy, in an irreversible manner, its place among the modern, stable and prosperous democracies of Europe.
This year, we got further evidence that NATO is consistently advancing on the path of its own renewal and that of its enlargement. NATO through its successful mission, Joint Endeavour, has provided proof of its importance for the security and the stability of Europe by bringing peace and hope to Bosnia. It has ensured the first step towards reconciliation by providing support to the elections held this week-end. You have started intensive work on the internal adaptation of tht Alliance to be able better to accommodate new tasks in a new Europe, and preparing for the accession of the new members.
Allow me, at this point, to elaborate in more details on three issues.
For Hungary, the accession to all institutions of security and co-operation in Europe constitutes the most significant means to achieve complete and irreversible reintegration into Europe, assuming, in their entire range, all the responsabilities and obligations as well as rights deriving therefrom. Ever since its establishment Hungary has been an active and constructive participant of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. For already half a decade we have been a full member of the Council of Europe, and earlier this year, we were admitted to the OECD.
The current main goal of Hungarian foreign policy is the accession as a full member to three key components of Euro-Atlantic integration, that is, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the European Union and the Western European Union. This endeavour is based in my country on the consensus among the democratic parties represented in Parliament and enjoys the support of the vast majority of the Hungarian society.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is attractive to Hungary because already for almost half a century it has been successfully complying with the goals anchored in the Washington Treaty, namely, the collective defence of its member countries and the preservation of democratic values. It has been the single most important instrument to sustain Trans-Atlantic ties, to keep the United States and Canada engaged on our continent. This important aspect will remain.
On the other hand, it has proved able, following the democratic transformations that took place in the Central and Eastern half of our continent to adapt to the situation that emerged in the post-Cold War period and to renew itself accordingly. NATO has developed broad co-operative arrangements with the new democracies. It has extended its activities to the participation in the new tasks and missions which set themselves the goal of strengthening and consolidating security in Europe. I am convinced that a NATO renewed and enlarged, will thus continue to be an indispensable pillar of the new European security architecture we are constructing for the 21st century.
I do believe that as a country deeply committed to the values NATO stands for, Hungary will soon be in a position to join the Alliance as a full member. My expectation is that this will happen in the first wave of enlargement. Still am I confident that sooner or later all countries wishing to join from the Central and Eastern region, will be able of complying with conditions of accession. That is in Hungary's interest. It would significantly strengthen security and stability in the region.
Each and every country will, of course, have to proceed on the difficult path of preparing for the full range of responsabilities and rights to be assumed in the Alliance with their own means and possibilities. The gate of accession will also have to be opened as result of an individual assessment of the results of the country in question. We must together make sure that no one turns away from NATO in despair. On the contrary: a clear future must be held out for all interested partners.
The scope and depth of the ever increasing co-operation between NATO and partner countries must be further strengthened, entering into a qualitatively new phase. Thus, answers could be found for the concerns of the countries which would become members of this organisation in a later phase building on the remarkable success of Partnership for Peace.
Hungary shares NATO's perception according to which the enlargement of the alliance will have to take place in such a way that it strengthens the security and stability of the entire Continent and contributes to the establishment of a new security architecture which will once and for all overcome the division of Europe. There is no doubt that the present gradual, transparent and predictable process is the way to do it. I am convinced therefore that the active and constructive participation of Russia is an essentially important factor for security in Europe.
By ensuring this possibility and by strengthening the strategic relations of partnership between NATO and Russia, pursuing a dialogue and providing constructive answers to it's legitimate security concerns, a situation can be achieved where Russia would also consider the envisaged enlargement of NATO as a process aiming at the developement of the European security architecture and would not see it as a threat.
You are also well aware of our efforts to comply with the multifold and strict requirements of NATO membership. Consolidation of democratic institutions, continuing the painful efforts to establish a full-fledged market-economy. Furthermore comprehensive and deep-ranging reform of the armed forces, including democratic and civilian control, constitute elements that are equally important. Finally, last but not least they include also settled relations with the neighbouring countries and the ability to contribute actively to NATO's efforts and the preservation of the Alliance's efficiency.
In our preparations for membership, immesurably great help is being provided by the close co-operation which has developed between Hungary and NATO including the high level dialogue we are maintaining with the Alliance. This close co-operation is manifesting itself in the framework of Partnership for Peace, in the multifold co-operation with NATO and partner-nations alike as well as through our multifold IFOR participation... The exchanges we are having in the framework of the individual, intensive dialogue on enlargement are of a high value.
The IFOR-operation has opened a new page in the process of NATO's transformation and its co-operation with partners including Hungary. Hungary has right from the start been of the opinion, that the success of this operation based on the solidarity of a broad coalition, which goes without precedent coincides with our own national interests. We therefore actively and in several ways, participate in IFOR, and will continue to do so as long as necessary. I am convinced that IFOR's success would not have been possible without the convincing results, the confidence achieved and co-operation developed in the framework of Partnership for Peace. In return: let us all make use of experiences gained in IFOR for an ever closer Partnership.
Hungary has been and continues to be of the opinion that its prosperity and security is inseparable from the well-being and security of it's neighbours. It is therefore our crucial interest to develop a network of relations and co-operation with our neighbours covering all spheres of life. We must strenghten the awareness of our common destiny, the awareness of belonging together. In our perception, mutual understanding, the clarification of problems and the solution of disputes may be reached through mutual attention to each other's problems, dialogue, the readiness to reach agreement and necessary compromise, negotiations and the strenghtening of practical co-operation. It is in this spirit that Hungary is strenghtening relations with its neighbours and has laid down the basic principles of relations in the basic treaties signed with its neighbours.
It was hardly more than a month ago, as a result of long, intensive and difficult series of negotiations, Hungary and Romania succeeded in reaching an agreement on the text of the so called basic treaty. it is exactly on this very same day that in the city of Timisoara (Temesvár), Prime Ministers Gyula Horn and Nicolae Vacaroiu are signing this document.
We are convinced that the signing of this agreement is not only of particular importance from the point of view of developing relations among the two countries but also contributes to the strenghtening of stability and security in the whole region of Central and Eastern-Europe.
The basic treaty signed with Romania is unequivocally declaring that we have no territorial claim whatsoever against each other and increases the expectation that the Hungarian minority living in Romania will enjoy all the rights, which have been laid down by the European norms and agreements. We are confident that the basic agreements signed with Slovakia and Romania will promote historic reconciliation and the further development of our relations.
The basic treaty unequivocally states that Hungary and Romania will help each other in the process of acceding to the structures of Euro-Atlantic integration. I believe that by assuming this obligation Hungary provides evidence in an unambiguous manner, that its interest is to see all of its neighbours becoming members of the same Euro-Atlantic institutions that my country will belong to. This paragraph of the basic treaty is also confirming our position that as a NATO member country we wish to participate in the consensus-building inside the Alliance in a bona fide manner and do not intend to put obstacles to the accession of our neighbours, either.
Secretary General Solana, Members of the Council
Hungary has, in the past years, taken significant steps in the process of reintegration into Europe. Democratic institutions are strong and stable, our market economy is working, firm civilian control of the armedforces is established. Relations with our neighbours are developing in a broad range of fields and we have increased our armed forces' ability to co-operate with NATO. I do know that there is still a lot to be done and that the overwhelming majority of the conditions of full integration will have to be fulfilled through our very own efforts. I am nevertheless sure that in fulfilling these endeavours of ours we will continue to be able to rely on the support, experience and advice of the countries represented in the Atlantic Alliance. I am convinced that the full reintegration of Hungary into its natural environment, is not only a Hungarian interest but one of the European continent as a whole and of its institutions, including the North Atlantic Alliance.
You have formidable tasks ahead of you. You are in the midst of a process forming History, with a capital "H". That is an opportunity that comes around once in a generation. The new Europe we are together constructing is going to be with us for the foreseeable future. I know that the Alliance and its members, are keen on doing it right. I can assure you, that in your efforts you can always count on the support of Hungary, a present partner a future ally. I wish you all the best of luck and success in your historic endeavour.