As a starting point, I will say that Hungary considers NATO's enlargement to be the proper response by the North Atlantic Alliance to the new challenges in Central and Eastern Europe. Such a response is fully in line with the ambition of most countries in our region to become NATO members, recognizing as they do the importance of NATO, the importance of an American presence in Europe, and the decisive role NATO will play in the future. Moreover, the enlargement process will boost NATO's efforts to establish its new identity in the new world order and enable it to take on and receive from the new members valuable contributions to its integrity, credibility, and strength.
Expanding NATO is the sole viable response to the challenges we face in Central and Eastern Europe since it is supported by strong realities such as the indivisible nature of today's security. It is often said that no region is safe and secure without the stability of others; thus unpredictability or instability in Eastern Europe has security implications for the West, and NATO cannot afford to be indifferent to what is happening in our part of the world.
Theoretically, there are two kinds of attention NATO could give to our region. The first is a distant, out of area attention that would confine NATO action to a reaction-type of crisis-management policy. The second, and no doubt better, form of attention would lead to the integration--in various ways--of our countries. Such a positive, forward-looking, and result-oriented approach would be a major contribution to stability, project security, and greatly promote the democratic, free-market development of the countries in the region. This approach would be a clear indication of NATO's new emphasis on representing and enhancing democratic values and principles, a focus that now prevails over the core function of defending member-states against an outside threat during the Cold War period. This approach would also help prevent crisis situations from emerging.
With regard to Partnership for Peace, I must admit that, for many Central and Eastern European countries, it was not "love at first sight." Many of us thought that it was an unnecessary detour, a substitute for the strongly desired NATO membership. It took us some time to realize that PFP is a strategic structure with two major functions: preparing countries for NATO membership, and contributing in its own right to the emergence of a new Euro-Atlantic security architecture. PFP is one element in a system whose other pillars are the institutions of Euro-Atlantic integration (NATO, European Union, Western European Union, Council of Europe), an improved version of OSCE, and regional as well as bilateral arrangements and agreements. Thus, we see that it is in the best interests of all of us that this program functions properly and develops further.
There is a direct link between the process of NATO enlargement and PFP, both from a procedural and a substantive point of view. PFP acts as a framework for the process of taking candidate countries from dialogue through cooperation and partnership to their ultimate goal: alliance membership. Major elements of this process, as we see them, are:
The defense Planning and Review Process is a multifaceted new feature of the above process, representing yet another breakthrough in substantive cooperation. We consider this process a framework for self-differentiation, providing the chance for individual countries to prove their readiness and capability and to present their own information on meeting admission criteria, on which final decisions are expected to be made. At the same time, the Planning and Review Process is a cooperative effort in the "16 + 1" format and also implies the possibility of some structured multilateral cooperation among Partners as well.
Regional cooperation and good neighborly relations are not only expectations of an enlarged NATO; they are also in the vital interest of the countries in question. In this regard, I would like to mention the successful efforts of the Hungarian government to sign a basic treaty with Slovakia and the treaty's recent ratification by an impressive 70% of the Hungarian parliament; I would also like to remind you of our continuous effort to sign a similar bilateral treaty with Romania. Hungary is happily developing ties in many fields of cooperation with practically all of our neighbors. (Serbia is, of course, a tragic exception.)
It is evident, therefore, that PFP is much more than a framework for preparing future members of NATO. It is, at the same time, a strategic engagement. Together with the process of NATO enlargement and the special arrangements of dialogue and cooperation with countries that would not join the North Atlantic Alliance, PFP contributes greatly to the success of the efforts aimed at avoiding new divisions among current NATO members, new members, future members, and non-members. We are therefore of the view that PFP should maintain its "sovereignty" and should not be merged with NACC.
Since it is in everyone's interest not to isolate or antagonize Russia during the process of NATO enlargement, Moscow's recent joining of the Partnership program can and, I hope, will be a major development. Of course, it is yet to be seen if this move on Russia's part is really more than a simple gesture to ensure the contact with NATO that is so badly needed to realize Russia's not-yet-properly-elaborated ideas for a new European security system. It also remains to be seen if the Russian army is genuinely interested in participating constructively in PFP programs and if it is ready to accept effective civilian and democratic control.
With regard to the role Partnership for Peace plays in Hungary's development, I would like to point out that the number one challenge Hungary faces is the modernization of our country in the broadest possible sense. It is our firm conviction that the best, if not the only, way to achieve modernization is through Hungary's full reintegration into the European and Euro-Atlantic community of nations.
In this connection, I want to underline that meeting NATO (and EU) expectations and making the best use of the possibilities offered by Partnership for Peace and our Individual Partnership Program coincide with our national interests, ambitions, and is in full harmony with the logic of our own development. NATO membership, as soon as possible, is a priority objective of our government and enjoys a broad national consensus. Of course, integration with the Euro-Atlantic community, in our view, means much more than full-fledged membership in NATO (or in the European Union, for that matter). It is a process of reaching Western standards and of becoming a genuinely European nation.
From this perspective, then, Partnership for Peace and our Individual Partnership Program are of paramount importance in general terms and in specific fields as well. They both have a major role to play in our military reforms, which are on the agenda whether or not we have the chance to become a NATO member soon. Of course, we can carry out reforms by building up a fully independent, strong, but isolated Hungarian army, or we can have the chance to do it in an integrated way within the North Atlantic Alliance. The latter option would most probably not be much more expensive, but it would certainly be much more effective and would prevent misunderstandings and misinterpretations that could occur in neighboring countries if reform is carried out in isolation. PFP is also instrumental in strengthening civilian and democratic control over our armed forces, thus enhancing the establishment of a new relationship between the military and the new, democratic Hungarian society.
It is in this spirit of cooperation that we continue to do our best, in addition to what we have already done, to implement the 1995 Hungarian Individual Partnership Program. This includes, among other things, a joint British-German-Hungarian exercise (COOPERATIVE LIGHT) in Hungary, and the establishment in Budapest of an international language training center for officers from Central and Eastern European countries with the aim of ensuring that a common language is found both in the figurative and the literal sense.
I would also like to mention that by a recent government decision, an additional sum of $3 million was earmarked for financing PFP activities and the most immediate NATO-related tasks in 1995. This decision gives additional proof of our commitment to provide the necessary financial resources for such actions despite the budgetary problems we face. We have also taken all the necessary steps to sign the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) as soon as it is open for signature, and have decided to further strengthen our presence in the Partnership Coordination Cell both in numbers of staff and in the quality of work done there. Furthermore, in March 1996 we plan to host a NACC/PFP seminar on "The Principles and Practice of Democratic and Civilian Control over the Armed Forces." I do hope that all of these actions prove that Hungary wants to be an active Partner in the broadest possible terms.
We feel that a historic opportunity is at hand to become one of the first countries to be admitted to the North Atlantic Alliance in the not very distant future. This opportunity would enable us to establish a major tie that would bind us institutionally and organically with the democracies of Western Europe and North America. We believe it would be a fatal error to miss this opportunity.
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