Updated: 15 June 1999 NATO Speeches


of the North
at the level
of Heads
of State
and Government

23 Apr. 1999


by the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban

Secretary General,
Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It's a real joy at NATO's 50th Anniversary that we feel today, but I suppose that the happiest of all are us new members. Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve and too short for those who rejoice. All of us have a different sense of the passage of time which varies depending on what situation, pleasant or unpleasant, we find ourselves in. It is the same with how long or short a day, a week or even a century seems to last. To all the nations in the world, all the centuries appear to be of different lengths. In terms of the past 100 years, the 20th century, all nations and individuals have a different perception of how long it has been. It all depends on the kind of events that determined our lives, the wars and the turmoil we have survived, the joy we have had, the suffering and pain we have endured.

Some say that the 20th century has been a short century as the 19th century took such a long time to end. All I can say is, to us Hungarians, the 20th century certainly seemed quite long. In war we suffered a lot and almost lost our statehood. And for 50 years we were compelled to live without any prospect of freedom or independence, under a rule radically different from our own. So for us Hungarians, by joining NATO, this century of suffering and uncertainty is finally over.

Although we know that anything we survive makes us stronger, rather than gather more strength in the way we have known in the past decades, we now want to use the force we have accumulated to improve the life of Hungarians in a democratic environment and take our share in building peace and prosperity in our region, Europe and the whole world.

There is a time to let things happen and a time to make things happen. I am convinced that through a close co-operation with our new Allies in NATO, the Hungarians will be able to contribute to a more just world. I wish to all of us another successful 50 years.

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