First of all, let me express our sincere gratitude to our hosts for organizing this important forum. I feel honored to speak before this distinguished audience about some aspects of the Hungarian foreign and security policy.
Conventional wisdom maintains that history and geography shape the foreign and security policy thinking of nations. The 20. century history of Hungary seems to confirm this assumption. To illustrate it, let me present you as example the developments of the last decade, when our security policy environment went through fundamental changes:
Ten years ago Hungary was member of the Warsaw Pact and the Comecon, respectively the military and economic bloc dominated by the Soviet Union. As far as the current situation is concerned, Hungary was successful in joining the North Atlantic Alliance last year and entered an intensive phase of negations with the European Union for full membership. With respect to the geo-strategic changes: ten years ago Hungary had five neighboring countries, currently it has seven. Five from this seven neighbors are new states, new actors of international politics, new subject of international law. The multiplication of state sovereignties has been a consequence of the disintegration process of multiethnic states neighboring Hungary: in the North and North/East: Czechoslovakia and Soviet Union, in the South: Yugoslavia.
As far as Yugoslavia and its violent conflict was concerned, in the early 1990s, Hungary experienced the negative consequences of a 'hot war' elo se to its Southern border, after decades of a 'cold war' on its Western border in the Communist time. Hungary is located at the proximity of the Balkans and shares a frontier with three successor states of former- Yugoslavia, ineluding the Republic of Serbia. Because of the escalation of conflicts in and around the Federal Republic ofYugoslavia, this neighborhood proved to be a difficult one in the last ten years.
In 1990, at the moment of the collapse of the Eastern bloc and following its first free elections, Hungary defined its main foreign policy objectives. Among its priorities, a special emphasis has been put
1./ on the integration into the European and Euro-Atlantic structures; that is accession of Hungary to the European Union and NATO; and
2./ on the consolidated and friendly relations with neighboring states in the interest of regional stability
These foreign policy objectives are not alternatives, they complement each other. Unchanged since the early 1990s, they continue to enjoy a large consensus among politicai parties represented in the Parliament. Any Hungarian govemment that has since been in office considered and continues to consider these goals as of primary importance.
In March 1999, hardly a year ago, Hungary - to gether with Poland and the Czech Republic - joined the North-Atlantic Alliance. This was a major event in the development of the post -Cold War security policy in general and the diplomatic history of the three Central European countries in particular. NATO has opened its doors Eastwards; it erossed the former East-West demarcation line, the so-called Iron Curtain in accepting new members.
For my country accession to the North Atlantic Alliance had first and foremost apolitical significance. It meant primarily our re-integration to a community of shared values, based on the principles of democracy, human rights and market economy. This was the return to the family of demoeratic nations, return to Europe as we said at that time. Joining NATO, obvious ly, meant also more security. This military-political organization provides firm guarantees, a collective defense against eventual external threats, and a better protection when facing new security challenges such as international terrorism and organized crime.
European integration complements the foreign policy goals set by NATO membership. Accession to European Union offers very important advantages for Hungary. It serves as an anchor for our modernization efforts, brings increased competitiveness, and contributes to the restructuring of the economy. Membership will offer a larger market and will help Hungary in preserving sustainable growth. EU accession means stabilization in economic and social matters, and thus it encourages foreign investments. Hungary also welcomes the emerging security and defense identity of Europe, it perceives it as complementary to the shared strategy defined by the Atlantic Alliance.
The objective of joining European Union enjoys broad public support and is backed by overwhelming majority in Parliament. Aceording to recent, reliable public opinion polls, two thirds of the Hungarian population (63 ) would be ready to vote in favor of the accession and only 7 would be against it. Consequently, there is a strong confidence in the favorable effects of Hungarys future membership in the Union. It is, of course, largely shared by the business community of our country. This sentiment is also based on actual figures. The European Union is currently the most important trading partner of Hungary with a share in export exceeding 72, and reaching 64 in import.
Hungary assumes that it can accede to the European Union by January 2003. We are very much aware of the fact that this is an ambitious goal, but we are also certain, that it can be reached. This year we are entering into a decisive phase of negotiations with ED. Wehave also designed the timetable of our internal preparation for accession. The Hungarian strategy for integration is focusing on economic policy, the harmonization of domestic legal system with the corresponding EU reg ime and the training of civil servants to have the necessary knowledge about European Union.
Let me retum for a while to the security and defense matters on the European continent. Being full member in NATO, Hungary wants to be not only a consumer, but also a provider of enhanced security, a contributor to regional and alI-European stability. The Yugoslav, more specifica11y the Kosovo crisis has convincingly demonstrated that NATO enlargement was timely, and new members have been able to contribute efficiently to the action of the Alliance in Yugoslavia, Hungary, for instance, offered its airspace and airports for the use of NATO planes, provided a comprehensive host-nation support, and developed acomplex co-operation mechanism with NATO authorities.
Since the end of the military action, Hungary has actively participated in the peace keep ing operation called KFOR in Kosovo, as weil as in various poIiticaI and diplomatic efforts aiming at inter-ethni c reconciliation, demoeratic institution-building and economic reconstruction in the region. As you know, following the devastating conflict, a long term strategy, called Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe has been developed. Several countries and international organizations are involved in this major diplomatic endeavor.
Since the priorities of the Stability Pact coincide with Hungarian foreign policy objectives, our country wants to participate as ful1y as possible in the efforts of the international community. We are currently acting chair of Working Table One of the Stability Pact. Geographic proximity and common history with its Southern neighbors provides special assets for Hungary to be a useful partner in the multilateral consolidation efforts related to the Balkan region.
Hungary attaches great importance to consolidated and balanced relations with al1 its neighbors, sma11 and medium size countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Both enhanced bilateral contacts and sub-regional cooperation frameworks can contribute to renewed partnership among our nations. We are convinced that the gradual extension of NATO and the European Union Eastwards, the incorporation of new countries into these organizations will bring more stability and understanding to the region. As new member of NATO, Hungary is ready to share its experiences acquired in the accession process with its neighbors, who are willing and able to take the path of integration. Among neighbors sharing a direct border with Hungary Slovenia, Slovakia, Romania and most recently Croatia have expressed wish to join the Atlantic Alliance. Hungary, to gether with Poland and Czech Republic, can serve as integration bridgehead in the direction of these countries.
Regional cooperation frames, such as the Visegrad group, the Central European Initiative and the SECI (the South/East European Cooperation Initiative) can also play a useful role in the European security. They multiply regional contacts, increase inter-cultural awareness, build trust and confidence between individuals, communities and countries involved. In some historical1y loaded bilateral relations they might also promote active reconciliation. This way, they can complement and reinforce the positive effects of NATO and EU enlargement. Hungary is firmly committed to this form of cooperation; currently our country assumes the duty of chair in the Central European Initiative.
Beside Euro-Atlantic and regional issues, Hungary continues to be active in other fields of international politics too. We think that proliferation of weapons of mass distraction constitute a serious threat to international community.
As far as the nuclear issues are concerned, Hungary is a state party to the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. It attaches great importance to achieving the universality of this Treaty. It also signed and ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. We share the widely held concern that there is no progress in the international ratification of the CTBT. Hungary is also worried about the impasse in the process of reducing the number of nuclear weapons, and watches with concern the suspected nuclear ambitions of some States.
Anti-personne1 landmines constitute another urgent task. Hungary has signed and ratified the Ottawa Convention and has been a proponent of a regional approach to this global problem. In this context Hungary co-hosted with the International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines a regional conference on this is sue in 1998.
International community has to face increasingly the problem caused by conventional weapons used in regional conflicts. As some experts put it, the small arms and light weapons constitute the real "weapon of mass destruction" in our times. Hungary is quite vulnerable to their spread, because of the particularities of the region (ethnic-based conflicts, organised crime). Therefore we are interested in the success of the international efforts to set up some kind of standards regulating their transfers and even their production. We have joined practically all efforts (let it be in the framework of the European Union as an associated country, the Stability Pact, or the OSCE) aimed at the control of the spread of these arms.
To conclude, let me say a few words about the reform of the United Nations.
It is often said that this reform is a process, rather than an event. I fully concur with this. The most exciting part of the UN reform, without any doubt, is the enlargement of the Security Council. Hungary is deeply committed to play an active role in this respect. We believe that the composition of the Council should genuinely reflect the political and economic realities of our contemporary world. OUf position on the issue is on record. We strongly support a limited enlargement of the Security Council in both categories, i.e. permanent members and non- permanent members alike.
Ever since 1991, Hungary advocates the inclusion of Japan and Germany to the category of permanent members. It is in this context that I wish to emphasize: Japan's aspirations to become a fully-fledged permanent member of the Security Council are perfectly legitimate and we continue to lend our support to this end. We believe that the new permanent members, like J apan should enj oy the same rights and bear the same responsibilities, like the current P-5.
On the road to reform the Security Council, Hungary is ready and willing to work hand-in-hand with Japan. We should redouble our efforts to give a new and fresh impetus to the process of the reform of the United Nations as a whole, and in particular to the enlargement of the Security Council. In this respect, a major opportunity for us comes this September, where a Millennium Summit of the United Nations will be held in New York with the participation of Heads of States or Governments.