U.S. Department of State
Other State Department Archive SitesU.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
The State Department web site below is a permanent electronic archive of information released online from January 1, 1997 to January 20, 2001. Please see www.state.gov for current material from the Department of State. Or visit http://2001-2009.state.gov for information from that period. Archive sites are not updated, so external links may no longer function. Contact us with any questions about finding information. NOTE: External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views contained therein.
U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, and
Hungarian Prime Minister Orban, and Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi

Remarks on the Occasion of Receiving the Order of Merit from the Government of Hungary
Budapest, Hungary, December 13, 2000
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
Blue Line

FOREIGN MINISTER MARTONYI: Madame Secretary, Secretary General Kroo, Honorable Rector, Honorable Dean, members of the Academy of Sciences, ladies and gentlemen.

It was only 21 months ago that I shared with our guest of honor the podium in the library dedicated to the memory of a man who has most profoundly shaped the world that we have lived in during the past half century. It was President Truman whose vision and determination helped preserve the community of peace and freedom loving nations and ultimately ended the artificial division of Europe. The word "containment" in its original sense, was the foundation of a doctrine long productive, bringing fundamental changes in the life of every Hungarian, enabling us to realize our potential as a free nation.

I hear that you, Madame Secretary, are an avid reader of the works of Truman's Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, the key architect of post World War II American foreign policy. I thank you for realizing, as did your predecessor of more than 50 years ago, that with the end of the Cold War, the need for sustained U.S. leadership has not disappeared. Not only will the headaches not go away, as he put it, but there is now a unique chance for the United States and its friends to secure the peace that was won and extend the family of nations that can enjoy its fruits.

A couple of days ago I was given a small gift, a book. The book, written by James Chase, was about Dean Acheson. Symbolically, the gift was given to me by the Ambassador of the European Union in Hungary. Now having read that book, I come to the conclusion, maybe surprising, that Dean Acheson did probably much more for European integration and European unity than many of his counterparts and colleagues in Europe. There is an inseparable link between Dean Acheson's legacy and your vision, Madame Secretary. It is a tribute to your vision that American foreign policy recognized early on the threat of a drift in the transatlantic relationship. As you put it in the Truman library, I quote, "we know that when the democracies of Europe and America are divided, cracks are created through which the forces of evil and aggression may emerge. And that when we stand together no force on earth is more powerful than our solidarity on behalf of freedom." You were not only quick to realize this danger, but also decided to act, in a principled manner, and embraced Europe as a much needed partner whose unity and freedom needed to be created and secured in the aftermath of the Cold War.

In the past few years you occasionally referred to your life history and remarked that in an ironic way the countries where you had spent your early years had broken up and no longer exist. I am obliged to add that you have quite successfully compensated for that by doing your utmost, both before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall, to unite what belongs together in your country. So that if I might quote your impassioned exclamation from the Truman Library almost two years ago, I say "Hallelujah." Our nation thanks you for your personal dedication to realizing our dream and that of other Central and Eastern European nations by welcoming us to the transatlantic community of free nations.

You summed it up eloquently on March 12, 1999: Never again will our fate be tossed around like poker chips on a bar room table. Hungarians, with a tragic history in the thick of central European power struggles, note and appreciate the powerful meanings of these words. Madame Secretary, this distinguished panel is transferring upon you an honorary degree that is meant to acknowledge your formidable achievements as a scholar, and as a very popular university professor. Your academic background coupled with a rich life history as a Central European, has been a great asset for you in the seventh floor office in the State Department.

You are leaving an indelible mark on U.S. foreign policy not only by making historic decisions, but also through your contribution to the philosophy of international relations. Under your guidance, vision was married with pragmatism in American foreign policy, which dictates that we honor our commitments, back our words with actions, field essential costs, and take necessary risks. You reconfirmed the central role of freedom in your country's foreign pursuits. May I quote, "The star by which American foreign policy must continue to navigate during the remaining years of this century and throughout the next." One of your friends and allies in Central Europe, Hungary, is guided by the same convictions and will be with the United States in realizing the ultimate goal of a Europe whole and free.

Madame Secretary, dear Madeleine, I would like to thank you for what you have done for freedom and democracy in the world. Thank you for being a true friend of Hungary and a strong supporter of Hungary's quest for a happier future.

PRIME MINISTER ORBAN: (In Hungarian) We've known each other personally for quite a long time now and I've learned to respect you over the last 10 years. I remember when back at the end of the 1980s, we were impatient in describing to the Secretary of State that we needed much stronger support from America in our fight against Communism. I remember very well when at the beginning of the 1990s, we first met in the United States and you then weren't Secretary of State as yet but everybody was saying that you were sooner or later becoming. We were again impatient in trying to explain to you that Hungary should be as soon as possible adopted and admitted to NATO.

I also remember very well when you were ready as the Secretary of State visited us in the mid 1990s, and brought us the news that instead of quick enlargement of NATO Partnership for Peace would follow first. And we had a very intense conversation back then because our understanding of this statement was that NATO membership would be referred to an unforeseeable future. And at each of these three occasions you gave three different answers but the essence of your answers were always the same, be patient, things are on the good track. America's democratic commitment would not change at the end of the century either and America and the Secretary of State would do their best to bring Hungary's best dream to reality and you were right. Everything was done at the right time.

So on behalf of the Hungarian citizens may I thank you for contributing to Hungary's starting the 21st Century in security. Let me thank you on behalf of the Hungarian people also for not losing the objective to contributing to Hungary's NATO membership even in the most complex times. Our Hungarian citizens highly appreciate you as a wonderful lady provided that is within the limits of protocol correctness in American terms.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you Mr. Prime Minister. Let me say what a great honor it is for me to receive this award because it's not often that the Secretary of State can be involved in a labor of the head and a labor of the heart. Nothing has made me happier than to be able to do everything I can for this wonderful country, Hungary, and to have been present when we brought Hungary into NATO. I was very proud to be part of this and I was very proud to have known Hungary's Prime Minister when he was not yet Prime Minister; he has done so well bringing the people of Hungary into Europe.

I am very proud to know your current Ambassador to the United States, Mr. Jeszenszky, who is present and so I am grateful to you and grateful to my partner the Foreign Minister who was there at that great moment in Independence, Missouri when we signed on Harry Truman's table the NATO protocols. So I thank my teammates and I thank you all again very much.

[End of Document]
Blue Line

Secretary's Home Page | State Department Home Page