|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and
Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi
Press Availability, Foreign Ministry
Budapest, Hungary, December 13, 2000
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
FOREIGN MINISTER MARTONYI: Good Morning ladies and gentlemen. We are extremely glad to receive here in Budapest Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State of the United States. We are very happy about the visit and we think it's a major event in the history of relationships between the United States and Hungary. I will try to be very brief.
The message which I wanted to convey to Madame Albright is very simple and straight forward. First and foremost, it's a word of thanks, an expression of gratitude for everything the United States did for my country, for Hungary, in the last decade or more. A word of thanks for the role the U.S. played in the Hungarian transformation process, politically, economically, culturally, psychologically even I would say, and we are all very grateful for that. We are particularly grateful for Madame Albright personally for the role she played in supporting and helping in assisting Hungary especially with regard to our NATO membership.
NATO membership is no doubt the most important development or achievement in that short history of 10 years which has an impact upon the next decades or perhaps even a longer time. We owe a special and personal gratitude to Madame Albright for the role she played in our joining NATO and thereby laying the ground stone for a stable, prosperous Hungary for the future.
We are also very grateful to the U.S. and personally to Madame Albright for the role the U.S. has played and is still playing, of course, in Southeastern Europe, in the Stability Pact because it has a direct impact upon the security and stability of this country.
We also expressed hope that the U.S. will continue to be present in this part of Europe. Indeed we expressed our hope that the U.S. would also remain and be present not just in Southeastern Europe but in Europe generally. As you know, Hungary attaches utmost importance to the so-called Transatlantic link and we will very much insist on a continuation of American presence and assistance in this continent. Now of course we also discussed many other issues relating to the region, relating to Southeastern Europe, relating to countries of the region.
We also discussed bilaterals and I won't go into all the details. I just mentioned one item which was raised, as you know this is an evergreen item, this is a visa policy and practice of the United States vis-à-vis Hungary or Hungarians and the Secretary of State was kind enough to deal with this issue and I think, I hope at least, that whatever can be done within the framework of the existing legislation and rules will be done to facilitate and ease this situation.
All and all, I just would like to express again that we are very grateful for this visit. I think it's an extremely important event for our countries, especially for my country and as you see we have a rich program for the Secretary of State. We are now going to attend lunch given by the American Chamber of Commerce in Budapest and then I'm sure we'll have a meeting with the Prime Minister and then we'll have the honoris causa ceremony at the Academy of Sciences later this afternoon. I thank you for your attention and of course Mrs. Secretary of State, we would like you to say a couple of words and then we're ready for your questions.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much Mr. Foreign Minister. I am very pleased to be in Hungary, and have had a chance to have such an excellent meeting with my colleague the Foreign Minister. I find it very hard to believe that this is my first visit to Hungary as Secretary of State, because I was such a frequent visitor in the past and have such close contact with the Foreign Minister that I do feel I have been here but I wish I could have come earlier as Secretary of State. I've tried a number of times. But I do feel very fortunate to be here during Hungary's Millennium year, which is also the 10th anniversary of its first truly democratic elections.
Hungary is a close friend and ally of the United States and it's clearly a leader in the region. It's an example to the world in how to make a successful transition from a centralized to democratic rule.
It's true that I will see the Foreign Minister tomorrow again in Brussels, for the meeting of the NATO Foreign Ministers and I would agree with him that the expansion of NATO is one of the proudest moments in terms of the Clinton Administration also. I did think even though we will see each other in Brussels that it was important to meet with him first here, in this most beautiful country, and to have a chance to discuss our bilateral and regional agendas.
During our meeting, I remarked on Hungary's impressive progress in the area of defense reform, which I am confident will continue. We talked a little bit about my visit earlier this morning to the International Law Enforcement Academy, and I expressed my thanks for Hungary's leading role in regional efforts to fight transnational crime.
We also talked a little bit about the award ceremony in which I participated with former President Goncz, and about the importance of respecting the rights of minority citizens, including the Roma. The Hungarian government's draft action plan seems an important step in the right direction.
The Foreign Minister and I also focused on two regional issues. The victory of democratic forces in Yugoslavia which is extremely welcome to all who care about freedom and human rights and tomorrow, in Brussels, we will be talking about how we can best help the new democratic leaders in Belgrade deal with the many problems inherited from decades of Communist misrule.
And, here in Budapest, I want to highlight the contributions that the Hungarians made to the cause of freedom through the Szeged process.
The assistance provided to opposition municipalities before the election was crucial in sustaining democratic forces. And plans to continue assistance through an extensive sister cities program can make a major difference as theYugoslavs try to recover and rebuild.
The Foreign Minister and I also talked about the recent elections in Romania and we agreed on the importance of working closely with the new government in Bucharest to advance reforms and the many interests our countries have in common. A close working relationship is especially important now, because Romania is about to take over the Chair of the OSCE in January.
In closing, let me just say again how really pleased I am to be here, and grateful for the very warm welcome I have received. Many of you that have followed me around know how much I love to receive honorary degrees so an honoris causa from the Hungarians will mean a great deal to me and I am very grateful for the very kind words that my good friend Janos Martonyi had expressed about my role recently so we have a great personal friendship and a great national friendship. Thank you very much.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary if I may ask you what are your plans after the 20th of January?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I haven't exactly had a lot of time to think about them but I will not disappear from the scene. I have interests that I have cared about a great deal for a long time involved with how to continue to help societies democratize. I think we have all seen that the process is complicated and a long one and that initially euphoria is great but that there is a lot of work afterwards. So having spent a lot of time working on democracies before I became the UN Ambassador and Secretary of State, I hope to spend time doing that. But I haven't totally focused as I keep traveling around, but I'll be around.
QUESTION: Mr. Minister as you are representing your country which is a member of NATO but also willing to join the EU in the coming years, I would like to have your opinion about the ongoing debate within the EU and NATO regarding the coordination between NATO and the EU and especially the EU with regard to a European Defense Force and Madam Albright your opinion about that?
FOREIGN MINISTER MARTONYI: We have been rejecting for now about 10 years the kind of choice between the Atlantic Alliance and European integration. We have always said and we are still saying that we want both and for us, so called Euro- Atlantic Integration was always the main word and we see no conflict, but at the same time we also have to do for that, that there be no conflict and because of our very specific historic experiences we have accumulated here in Central Europe, I think it's easy to understand why we insist upon continued American presence in Europe and a strong Atlantic commitment on both sides of the Atlantic while at the same time we want to be fully fledged participants in the European integration process. And for the time being we think the initial reservations are now diminishing or fading away on both sides of the Atlantic with respect to the ESDI or ESDP and we are now part to do our best so that those possible problems or reservations will continue to be reduced or indeed eliminated. It is important of course that those countries which are not members of the EU, but at the same time are members of NATO, those are like countries being included in the shaping of ESDI, ESDP. The six of course insist upon that very much and we do hope that the mechanisms and structures will be established which will supply useful and efficient framework for that conclusion.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Clearly there has been a lot of discussion about the evolution of the various relationships in the new Europe and have they fit together and how an American role fits within it. As a political scientist I am always fascinated by the evolution of new institutions. As a practitioner I keep them very much in mind as we develop our policies. What is clear to me is that our friends and allies in Europe, either in Western Europe or Central Europe, should not be presented with false choices. I don't think that it has to be an "either/or" issue here and I think that it is very important as we have said that there be a European capability within NATO and that there not be any duplication, that there not be a de-coupling of the United States from Europe, and I think Foreign Minister Martonyi has stated very clearly why it is important for the United States to continue to be a part of the European scene. And then there can't be discrimination against those who are not in the EU or not in NATO and so I think we have to be very careful as we watch the evolution but not be overly nervous. I think that basically this is a natural process and there should not be false choices.
QUESTION: At first how difficult will be the situation for the new President in the United States after long elections and what is your official opinion about the Gusinsky case?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: First of all I think that even though we have had a fairly long post-electoral process it has all followed through in the rule of law which is an American standard and importance and I think that people have taken it all in pretty good spirit. I have been traveling a lot so I haven't been aware of all the details nor do I know exactly more what has happened. I guess it's about to be morning in Washington. We are all preparing for a very smooth transition process no matter who is President. We had been preparing for that for a long time. I think the characteristic of American democracy is that our transitions are ultimately very smooth and in foreign policy I have worked very hard as Secretary of State to build a bipartisan foreign policy. It is essential. I have spent a lot of time on Capitol Hill trying to develop such a policy and I would hope that that would continue to be a hallmark for us.
On the Gusinsky case I think I have made very clear in the number of times I have testified, that it is important for there to be a free press in Russia, that a press or media, most of it is controlled by the government, is not a free press and that as one judges democratic evolution in Russia we will be looking very closely at the extent of the possibility of a free and functional press. Obviously Mr. Gusinsky's case is very much a part of it.
QUESTION: Secretary Albright I would like to ask you about the Presevo Valley demands to have NATO involved in the conflict there? Or demands that Yugoslav government be allowed to clean it's own house there to clear demands. What is your opinion?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: We are clearly very concerned about the advancing Presevo Valley and NATO is in fact taking steps to try to tamp down the danger there. I think we all have to watch it very carefully. Both the Serbs and the Kosovars have to help participate in lowering tensions. We have achieved a great deal in the Balkans and I think a lot of credit goes to Hungary that has helped so much throughout whether it is as I mentioned in my remarks in Szeged process or in terms of actually contributing forces. I think now as we face a series of continuing tests, because this is an ongoing story, we have to keep our eye on the ball and it's very important to try to lessen all tension in Presevo Valley which is clearly a hot spot.
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