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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Interview on Hungarian Public TV -- Channel 1 with Peter Radics
March 12, 1999
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State

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QUESTION: I have been working on this interview for about a year.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Really?

QUESTION: I kept insisting.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, that's good.

QUESTION: Because I think it's very important.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I'm very glad to do it.

QUESTION: I'm so pleased to have you, personally, on national television doing the interview because you are absolutely the best to do that.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you; that's very sweet.

QUESTION: That was my top priority for one year. Thank you so much for that.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Glad to do it.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, thank you so much for taking the time to mark this special occasion, special day to Hungarian people with this interview on Hungarian national television.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I am very pleased, and I congratulate the Hungarian people for now being a part of the greatest alliance in the history of the world.

QUESTION: There's always a backlash, though, on such days. There are so many big words and solemn promises and declarations made that people are likely to not really listen and pay attention to what really happened here today. What do you say to them, to the skeptics or to ordinary people in Hungary?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I have great admiration for the Hungarian people, who have shown over the last half-century specifically their dedication to freedom and their fighting, beginning in 1956, that Americans admired so much, and their desire to be part of a Europe that they are central to. So I say to the Hungarian people that they now have what it is that their fathers and mothers fought for so hard and that they are now a part of the Europe that they belong in.

QUESTION: NATO is an organization where decisions are made on a consensus. This means if Hungarians would veto something, then we could do that. What would you say if that would happen?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that it is an organization that operates by consensus; that's its strength. Obviously, Hungary would have that pportunity. We would hope that as we all work together more, that we have common purposes. It doesn't really happen very often in NATO that there are serious disagreements because it is an organization based on common values and a common sense of security. So the consensus is not difficult to come about.

QUESTION: Are you really stating that these relatively small and troubled countries will have a real word in the most successful alliance in history?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Yes, absolutely. This is an alliance where the countries are equal and where each voice is as important as another. That is why I think it takes a certain dedication to become a part of NATO; you just don't open it up for countries that do not have the same value system or are not militarily prepared.

QUESTION: There were many references here today to President Truman. I will try to quote him correctly. President Truman said once, "The goal must not be peace in our time, but peace for all time." Can you imagine a moment when NATO is not anymore the best organization to keep peace in the world?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that we obviously have a large world, and NATO cannot be the global policeman. But I do think that NATO, by having reinvigorated itself this way after the Cold War and finding a purpose for the 21st century, I believe will continue to be the strongest alliance for the Euro- Atlantic region.

QUESTION: There are more threats, you stated in your speech, now -- as always, there are more threats in the world today than ever. So the nations must be more united as well as ever before. Have you ever been afraid, though, that at the same time NATO enlargement -- especially further enlargement -- can create division among other nations?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that we have a number of organizations that other nations participate in. I think that NATO, as it is constructed and is evolving, is going to deal with new threats, which are weapons of mass destruction, out-of-area conflicts that have to be dealt with. I think that the unity of NATO is important and that other countries are part of the Partnership for Peace or the Eur-Atlantic Partnership and other organizations. So I do not see it as creating greater divisions, no.

QUESTION: The Slovakian Foreign Minister just said, after meeting you not long ago, that it's nice to have an open door policy but it is frustrating to feel that no one can walk through that open door. What do you say to that -- further expansion?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, we have said that there is an open door, and we are dedicated to it. I consider it a sad event that Slovakia was not ready.

QUESTION: Are you dedicated to deadlines, too, for further expansion?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: No, what we're doing -- and this will happen at the April summit and I said it in my speech -- this is a process not an event. I think that what we're looking for is countries that are prepared to become members. This is not a program for countries that are not ready.

QUESTION: But there is no chance this year to name a new candidate?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think that we have to wait to see how the NATO allies decide before April.

QUESTION: Thank you for the interview, Madame Secretary, and for the courtesy of talking to the Hungarian people tonight.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: And again, I wish the Hungarian people the best and congratulate Hungary for now being a member of this very powerful alliance.

QUESTION: Thank you so much.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you.

[End of Document]

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