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Enlargement Has Had a Strong Catalysing Effect on Democratic Transformation

Enlargement Has Had a Strong Catalysing Effect on Democratic Transformation

Address by H.E. Mr. Peter Medgyessy, Prime Minister of the Republic of Hungary. Source: NATO. Prague, November 21, 2002.

We came together here today to assess the security situation of the broader Euro-Atlantic region and to identify the tasks deriving from the latter in the NATO framework. The terrorist attacks of September 11,2001 have made it clear to us just like to the rest of the world that we are facing a new, global threat that requires updated strategic responses and new types of capabilities to this end.

Given that NATO's relevance is at stake in this situation, the Hungarian government fully shares the three main goals the Alliance has set itself; we need to apply a qualitatively new approach to the issue of capabilities; we have to take advantage of having new members on board; and we need to further develop NATO's relations with partners. If we succeed in living up to this threefold set of goals here in Prague, we will be in a position to call our summit a success and future historians will be right in calling this day as one of historic importance in the history of this Alliance. Adaptation and renewal constitute at the same time a challenge as well as an opportunity for the member states, among them Hungary.

I believe that it is during these days that the Euro-Atlantic community will leave of the legacy of the Cold War behind, once and for all. By launching a new robust wave of enlargement, NATO will overcome Europe's division. Overcoming this historical legacy and responding to the new challenges requires the renewal and adaptation of the Alliance. Never before have we had as favorable a political situation to define our responses to the new challenges as we have at our Summit today. The fight against terrorism brought closer to each other not only the Allies, but also partners like NATO and Russia. To reach our objectives, we must take action, rather than deliver declarations.

Although the world has changed a lot, the Washington Treaty continues to be one of the most time-proof agreements in the history of civilization. The importance of preserving NATO's traditional mission on the basis of the principles of collective defence, the transatlantic relationship, consensus and solidarity remains unchanged. We have a joint responsibility to adapt NATO's functioning to the requirements of our times while sticking to the essence of these principles and values.

The reinforcement of the transatlantic relationship constitutes a sine qua non condition of successful adaptation. We do see a chance to renew this relationship in a constructive manner and to get a deeper understanding of each other's points of view. Hungary is a European country with a strong Atlantic commitment. We are convinced that only a strong Europe can be a partner of a strong America- Hungary's goal is therefore to consistently insist on the principle of ,,more Europe but not less America". We have a fundamental interest in the development of a long-term strategic partnership between NATO and the European Union and in seeing the agreement providing the basis of such a partnership to be reached as soon as possible. Instead of created parallel planning and military structures competing with each other, we support the development of a system relying on mutual resources.

We are in a new situation. We are facing asymmetric challenges demanding new types of responses. A deep-going internal and external adaptation is inevitable. The key to adaptation is for us to be able to renew both capabilities and ways of thinking. By implementing the Prague capability package, we need to establish a set of means, which at the same time allow for NATO to play its role in the fight against terrorism, as well as in crisis management and in its traditional missions. We need effective, multifunctional forces applicable in a flexible manner.

Internal renewal will also need to apply to planning- We have to pay greater attention than before to the requirement of specialization and to the elaboration of joint or multinational solutions, One of the touchstones of the new way of thinking will be the concept of the NATO Response Force, which enjoys Hungary's full support.

A September 11-type catastrophe was needed to bring the threat assessment into the focus of attention on both sides of the Atlantic. It became clear that international terrorism and weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery constitute an equal threat to all of us and require common steps to be taken. In order to successfully cope with the asymmetric challenges of the new area, we are in need of greater solidarity than ever, and everything will need to serve the development of new and effective military capabilities.

We agree with the eight priorities identified by the Secretary General on the issue of capabilities and I can assure our allies that Hungary will do its best, with all affordable means, to contribute in a reliable and substantial manner. We realized that this is what our status, as a reliable member requires us to do. I ordered a comprehensive defence review of the Hungarian Defence Forces with the goal of enabling the Hungarian aimed forces in the near future to substantially increase their contribution to our joint efforts in accordance with the new priorities. My Government is committed to ensuring the resources required to this end. It is particularly true for Hungary, that we may only find appropriate answers through new types of capabilities and, what is probably even more important, a new way of thinking. In order to ensure the necessary background, the defence budget will in 2003 increase by 20 %.

The renewal of Hungarian national defence also extends to the defence philosophy. Our goal is to develop flexible capabilities suited for contributions to both regional and global missions. Conscription will be abolished by 2006, and we will introduce a fully professional armed service. The central element of this review is specialization, the reinforcement of military capabilities where Hungary has gathered special experience.

The development and proliferation of missile technologies will already in the foreseeable future significantly increase the threat we are facing. It is wiser to pre-empt such threats in the shadow of terrorism than to ignore them. Our joint action may ensure that this threat, along with the danger posed by weapons of mass destruction, will not lead to challenges difficult to handle for our Alliance. My Government is ready to contribute to co-operation on missile defence in the framework of the Alliance and also wishes to contribute to the implementation of the Euro-Atlantic missile defence program proposed by the United States.

We intend to participate in the ISAF-operation in Afghanistan with troops and will maintain our presence in the Balkans as well as continue the delivery of humanitarian aid amounting to 1 million USD to Afghanistan, help equip the armed forces of Afghanistan and Georgia, and extend anti-terrorist training in the International Law Enforcement Academy in Budapest and are also open to consider further requests. We strongly support the establishment of a broadest and most stable anti-terrorist coalition possible that may rely on NATO's political cohesion and the military capabilities and means of NATO and its members.

One important momentum in the fight against terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction has been the approval by consensus of the U.N. Security Council's resolution on Iraq. Hungary prefers a peaceful solution to be found, but not at any price; if political means are exhausted, we consider any necessary means as legitimate to eliminate threat. It is equally important for us not to limit the issue of terrorism to but one country, since the reasons behind it have deeper roots and only a broader approach may result in a durable solution.

My Government continues to attach great importance to NATO's traditional engagement in Southeastern Europe. We have supported the streamlining of the Alliance's activities on the Balkans by regrouping our forces. Although the situation has improved a lot, the maintenance of NATO's presence remains important from the political as well as the security point of view.

Today's summit is also a time to celebrate. Due to the robust enlargement of the Alliance, we will overcome a peace order in Europe that has existed for long decades and that has been unjust for several reasons. As a country that has joined NATO only a few years ago and that has collected a lot of sad experiences from the Yalta system, Hungary has a good feeling of the historic dimension of this step and welcomes the leaders and peoples of the countries invited today with all its heart. The perspective of enlargement has had a strong catalysing effect on the democratic transformation taking place in the candidate countries. We are of the view that all this will radically improve Hungary's immediate security environment and will, along with the renewal of partnership be able to give another strong boost to the enhancement of regional stability. We wish to continue to be one of the engines of the renewing partnership by making our experience available, as well as by enhancing our role as a regional stabilizer.

The Hungarian government will strive for NATO-Russia co-operation to further increase mutual trust between the parties, while retaining Alliance cohesion and the autonomy of its decision-making, I believe that the establishment of the NATO-Russia Council and its activities have played a significant role in ensuring the acceptance of the current round of enlargement. The NRC is a good example to prove that co-operation based on the principle of equal partnership will also bring the handling of even more difficult issues to success.

Hungary remains committed to co-operation with the Ukraine, Although recent developments have once again highlighted the contradictory nature of Ukrainian internal development, I am convinced that the Alliance has an elementary interest in farther develop this relationship and in the preservation of Ukraine's Euro-atlantic attachment. As we say in Hungarian: we have to spill the bathing water only and not the child with it.

As Head of Government of a country neighboring the region of the former Yugoslavia, I deem it important for NATO to continue to keep its doors open. We have to continue the implementation of the Membership Action Plan. The further development of EAPC and Partnership for Peace remains a common interest of ours, too. Our interest is to ensure for cooperation in the future to shift to a more effective direction that takes the interest of NATO and the participating countries more into account.

I am convinced that NATO is able to adapt to the changed circumstances and thus to safeguard the security of the citizens of its member countries in the long run. The directions set in Prague will serve as a guideline for both NATO adaptation and the Hungarian review. The hardest part of our work is yet to come. NATO has successfully taken a hurdle here in Prague. Now it is time to get down to the implementation. I can assure that Hungary will be worthy and reliable ally of yours in the course of this process.


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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).