Saturday, March 14, 2009

Message of H.E. László Sólyom, President of the Republic of Hungary, on the 10 years in NATO

“Exactly ten years ago, in the spring of 1999, the North Atlantic Alliance celebrated the 50th anniversary of its foundation. On March 12th, 1999, Hungary became a full-fledged member of NATO. While the accession of Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic, along with the anniversary of the founding of the Alliance, was cause for common celebration, it had a different meaning for the old and the new member states.

At the summit meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Washington, DC, the Heads of State and Government looked into the future: in their communiqué entitled “An Alliance for the 21st Century” they articulated their desire and commitment towards the security of the Balkan region as well as the development of NATO-Russia and NATO-Ukraine relations, including advancing broader cooperation in areas not limited to security and military affairs.

Besides, for Hungary NATO accession also meant the appreciation and the recognition of the post-1989 democratic transition. Indeed, becoming a NATO member was part of our return to the European and Euro-Atlantic community, where we had belonged to before communism, and for which already in 1956 we had fought a heroic, but solitary, freedom fight. For the new members, which had previously been members of the Warsaw Pact, the transition to NATO standards constituted not only the modernization of the defense forces, but in practice a complete transformation in terms of philosophy, organization and personnel, as well as in equipment.

Over the past 10 years, we have become the active participants in making decisions concerning the security of Hungary and the Euro-Atlantic region. Hungary’s presence and diligence in Afghanistan, the Western Balkans and Iraq has won recognition within the Alliance. I would like to take also this opportunity to express my appreciation of the conscientious and self-sacrificing service of the Hungarian soldiers. We take the rights and obligations that stem from full-fledged membership seriously. NATO does not guarantee our security instead of us, but together with us.

From the point of view of the security of the region neighboring Hungary, it is important that further countries also receive invitations to join the Alliance. Croatia and Albania will, hopefully, become members in time for NATO’s anniversary summit in April. The stability of the Balkan region requires that NATO remain open to the intention of new members to join. The quest for membership in NATO by Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro is to be supported. Our immediate neighbor, Serbia, also cooperates with NATO and participates in the Partnership for Peace program.

The global events of the past decade have justified the expectation that for Hungary and for the region, NATO membership guarantees stability and the possibility to develop in security. The deepening and further enlargement of the Alliance constitutes the condition for the true unification of Europe.
László Sólyom”
Source: Hungarian Ministry of the Foreign Affairs,

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