THE HUNGARIAN PERSPECTIVE OF EVOLVING RELATIONSHIPS AND THE FUTURE IN EUROPE VIS-A-VIS EAST AND WEST
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all allow me, on behalf of the Government of Hungary and the Hungarian Ministry of Defence, to greet all participants of SHAPEX 94 and to express my sincere delight in being able to attend this significant event. This gives me a good opportunity to present high ranking officials, distinguished political and military representatives with an overview of several international security issues, of the Hungarian position related thereto.
Several events that have taken place in Europe or in Hungary in the past few months or which are due to take place soon might serve as the basis for this overview. Without trying to be complete I would like to mention but a few of them: the “Partnership for Peace” initiative, the official submission of Hungary's intent to join the European Union as a full member, the fact that the follow-up conference of the CSCE this year will be hosted by Hungary, also the upcoming general elections in Hungary due to take place in May this year. This latter event also gives us a good opportunity to make a retrospective summary and balance. Allow me to start expounding my thoughts by assessing our domestic developments.
Viewed from a historical perspective, four years are indeed a short period in a nation's life. Still, I must say that the past four years have brought about epoch-making changes both in Hungary and in Europe and also in world history as a whole. In my country we had to establish — in some respect reestablish — the democratic institutions that form the basis of all other changes. We instigated the transition to a market economy, and, among many other important issues, we shouldered the task of formulating our own sovereign defence and security policies. There is consensus among the Parties in Parliament on the assessment of the security policy situation. The latter is expressed by the new Defence Concept and Defence Bill, which includes also the intention to bring about civilian oversight of the armed forces. We gradually introduced a new defence legislation which ensures transparency and democratic political control and we restructured our armed forces according to the new security environment. The strength of the Hungarian Home Defence Forces has been cut by one third as opposed to the strength as of early 1990. At the same time our armed forces were modernised in terms of command procedures and organisational structure; the proportion of the active duty officer corps and civilian employee staff has increased within the overall strength. Redeployment of the forces has begun and the geographic location of our forces — when compared to the situation four years ago — is now much more balanced and proportionate on the whole territory of our country.
We have also made efforts to procure up-to-date, NATO-compatible equipment from Western sources. Although I can report only partial successes in this area, such as the acquisition of the IFF-system from the United States, our progress in this field is, mainly due to budgetary reasons, much more difficult than we thought it to be. As is evident from this list of our tasks in the area of defence, which is by far not complete, we have had major tasks in the past four years and continue to have them even today.
Hungary has come a long way in the process of achieveing the goal chosen by the nation in a democratic manner, and these changes have of course affected our security and defence policies, as well as the system of our international relations.
The security of Hungary rests on three great pillars. The first one is the domestic political stability of our country with respect to both democratic institutions and government. Let me remark at this point that the Hungarian Parliament and the Government of Hungary — in a unique fashion in the region — are looking forward to the general elections in May with a completed four- year term in office behind them. The second pillar is a new system of foreign relations with the help of which we are building bilateral and multi-lateral cooperation with the countries and institutions of Europe and the Euro-Atlantic area that can ensure understanding with our close neighbours on the one hand, and might facilitate the achievement of one of our fundamental goals, namely our joining NATO and the European Union, on the other.
The third pillar of our security is the maintenance of our defence capability at an adequate and reasonable level. The conditions of the security policy of Hungary were not significantly changed in 1993. Although we still do not expect a direct military threat, but current uncertainties and the security risks resulting therefrom will still exist in the forthcoming period. We will have to continue to reckon with unexpected turns of events arising from some of the political developments in the region and also from the war in Bosnia, and possibly with the confusion resulting from unaccomplished or, in a certain sense, faltering transition processes. At the same time, the all-European structures are taking longer to emerge than necessary or expected.
Hungary is convinced that European stability is one and indivisible. Its consolidation and development may only be conceived in the spirit of institutionalised security relations and in the framework of a credible security system. An institutionalised relationship has the ability to consolidate the new democracies.
From the viewpoint of our security it is a significant development that the Yugoslav war has moved further South, away from our border, but it continues to be a potential security risk not only to us, but to the international community as a whole. The bloody South-Slav conflict does not seem to come to a resolution; a comprehensive peace does not appear to be any nearer than before.
Hungary has made considerable progress in bilateral confidence- building and cooperation with most of our neighbours, and the bilateral defence agreements concluded with the countries of the region and other European states are instrumental in providing guarantees for our security.
Among the various security frameworks, Hungary appreciates the efforts the CSCE makes to reinforce peace and improve stability on the continent. The CSCE — itself affected by adaptation problems — carries out a useful function in the field of arms reduction and control, among others. In our assessment, the implementation of the CFE Treaty which has been underway for a year now, has already reduced the imbalances in armaments between the countries of the region.
While maintaining our adherence to the CSCE basic principles, we are convinced that the security problems of our country can only be solved in the long run in a reassuring manner, by our gradual integration into the West- European and Transatlantic institutions. That is the reason why it is Hungary's firm intention to accelerate its own integration in the Euro-Atlantic security system.
Since 1990 our relations have been evolving steadily with the Western security systems. All parliamentary forces, both those in government and in the opposition agree that Hungary should, as rapidly as possible, become a member of the Western security system.
There is a strong awareness and desire in the Hungarian public opinion with regard to belonging to the West. Hungarians have a feeling of cultural unity, a perception of togetherness with the latter in terms of long standing and determinant historical traditions.
As for our cooperation with NATO, the past four years can be described as a period of the gradual development of our relationships with this organization in ail areas of the political, economic, military and environmental spheres. There is hardly an aspect of our activities in which we have not made at least the first step in getting to know each other. In most issues, however, we are now working on how to fill the specific forms of cooperation and the various projects with content.
Last year, too, a number of high ranking NATO officials and experts came to Budapest on a visit, and there were also many NATO-sponsored meetings, discussions and conferences in Brussels and elsewhere with Hungarian attendance. It was an honour for Hungary to have hosted several NATO and NACC workshops and seminars.
The programmes implemented within the framework of NACC- cooperation remain important in our efforts of mutual contact-building.
The setting up of a military office at the Hungarian NATO Mission in March last year, indicates an important step in our relations with NATO.
Hungary wishes to participate as fully as possible in the Partnership for Peace programme. PFP is becoming, to an increasing degree, the primary area of cooperation with NATO. Looking beyond the dialogue and cooperation up to this point, this initiative aims at the establishment of a partnership based on reciprocity. It does not exclude, in a discriminative manner, any nation from cooperation, but it makes the prerequisites for joining the programme very clear to them. This we consider to be a great value of the PFP.
The stability of Central and Eastern Europe must not be based on exclusion but will have to be brought about in the shape of broad security integration. Security is based on the recognition of mutual interests, on selfrestraint and partnership.
All this requires political maturity. Measures of political maturity include the durable establishment of democratic structures, a free market economy, civilian control of the military, and the commitment of society to the Euro- Atlantic values and political goals. It is also a part of political maturity to accept, as co-operating partners, those countries that are, from this point of view, still at the beginning of their process leading thereto.
Although the PFP programme does not grant us and other countries immediate security guarantees, it can, however, help us feel more secure. A closer cooperation will contribute to the restructuring and modernisation of our armed forces, and also to the achievement of NATO-compatability, - interoperability, which is at the same time the prerequisite of a future full NATO- membership.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is no secret that Hungary and some other countries of our region had had higher expectations before the Summit Meetings in Brussels and in Prague in January: that is, we had expected a quicker integration reaching beyond “partnership" and we also had expected a clear-cut definition of the terms and conditions of full membership.
We understand that in issues of such magnitude it is difficult to reach consensus at 16. That is why — maintaining our long-term goal of full membership — in the existing conditions we not only accept but welcome the PFP programme, as a realistic and pragmatic step towards the further broadening of relations and also as a possible reaction to the new geostrategic realities that took shape in Europe in the past four years.
We are convinced that this cooperation offers a good perspective for Central Europe. Partnership for Peace presents an opportunity for de facto differentiation, because for the countries in the vanguard of transition PFP creates more varied and direct forms of affiliation.
This programme will enable the participating states and armies to get closer to NATO in norms, standards, in device and in procedures.
It is a matter of fact that for the time beeing, the sixteen nations of the Alliance did not reach a consensus over the issue of accepting new members. In relation to the extension, the Russian sensitivity is often mentioned. In fact isolating or caging Russia inside its borders would be against the European interest. The task of the internationai community is rather to help relieve Russia of the burden of its authoritarian and expansionist past and to integrate this great nation, this new-old state of Europe, as fully as possible in the international system. It seems however that geographically expanded NATO, closer to the Russian frontiers would not be contrary to the interests of the Russian democratic forces.
This is not the place to dwell extensively upon the merits of NATO, but it is time to look into the question what the eastward expansion of the Alliance would mean and what not. NATO is obviously an alliance for common defense, that is not directed against any other country. It was successful in preventing adventurous schemes to be materialized, it provided stability in a vast region full of potential danger spots, it brought together countries which had a tradition of conflict between them. It also trained armies and their leaders for working together, for young people to come to know and respect each other - roles which are badly needed to emulate East of the area of the Alliance. NATO's expansion would indeed project stability and security to a region lacking it.
In my opinion if support for democracy in Russia takes the form of denying admission for Central Europe into NATO, we are not helping the cause of democracy in Russia but rather the forces of reaction. Central Europe today is a no-man's land and there is a tendency for any vacuum to be filled. If the western institutions do not fill it there will be others to put in a claim. If NATO and/or WEU is ready to expand eastward and consolidate Central Europe it will exclude any chance for others to try to influence them against their will. The democracies and the democrats of Central and Eastern Europe are the friends and supporters of democracy in Russia. They can support the latter best by their own rapid success, but that requires accession to the West.
In our view to find the right form for guaranteeing the security of the Central European countries by full membership does not contradict the Russian interest to be linked in security partnership with NATO and with the individual Western countries.
Partnership for peace is a good start because it endorses the idea of extending the Alliance in the future. But expansion can only be gradual, those who are more fit for membership should be the first to be given the green light.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As a signatory of the PFP Framework Document we accepted among others:
-to make the national defence planning and budgeting processes transparent;
-to study NATO standards, practices and procedures in the field of elaborating our defence programmes, the budgeting process and budget managing, defence industry research and development;
-to create and maintain our capability which will, within the framework and provisions of our Constitution, support our contribution to UN and CSCE peacekeeping missions. In the course of our peacekeeping training we will make efforts to establish working relationships between the Hungarian Peacekeeping Forces Training Centre (to be established in the first half of 1994) and the corresponding NATO organizations.
We will pay special attention to setting up forces that will meet the requirements of cooperation with NATO units with similar missions and equipment, and we will provide for the conditions of joining NATO's Combined Joint Task Forces;
The above Hungarian intentions have found a detailed expression in our “Presentation Document” which will shortly be submitted to the appropriate NATO fora by our representatives.
Besides our relationships with NATO, I would like to say a few words about some other aspects of our international relations, which are equally important in the light of international security:
First let me talk about the forms of regional cooperation in which our country plays an active part. Of these, the most prominent is the cooperation of the Visegrád Group founded in February 1991.
In an area that is generally characterized by a tendency towards disintegration, any joining of efforts which aims at developing international relations on the basis of democratic values has a stabilizing effect. The countries of the Visegrád Group have a lot in common, both historically and at present. Similarities exist in that they are in geostrategic positions along the borderline between stable and unstable Europe, they have made similar achievements in transforming their previous political and economic systems, but they also share problems when facing the new security risks and when remodelling their armed forces into reasonable and justifiable defence capability.
All of these features might serve as a basis for useful cooperation in many fields including security policy. Hungary maintains this view despite some sceptical remarks concerning the future of this group. We do not think that competition and rivalry are a proper strategy to come closer to the existing Western European and Euro-Atlantic organizations. National individualism can be counter-productive in the long run, NATO and the European Union are justified in requiring that the countries intending to join them not only be internally stable, but they should also have harmonious international relations with other countries of their region. The Visegrád cooperation and other regional initiatives, if they develop further, can meet this requirement for harmonious relationships.
The other regional grouping, the Central European Initiative, arose out of the former Pentagonal, later Hexagonal, and covers another group of countries situated along the former political borderline between “East” and “West”. It was based on a decade-long inter-regional cooperation called Alps- Adriatica.
Among the regional initiatives the most recent example is the “Carpathian Euro-Region”. It is a cross-border cooperationaf framework comprising countries and regions along the common frontiers of Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and the Ukraine. The Council of Europe played a positive part in its creation. Nevertheless, considering the reservation of some countries, as a general rule, inter-regionalism combined with decentralized or federal states, has yet a long way to go in East-Central Europe.
There is no need at this forum to emphasize that cooperation between Central European countries is not directed against any one state and that these countries do not intend to form a closed bloc. Seeking a separate security identity in Central Europe may entail the risk of distancing ourselves once again from the mainstream of European integration and Trans-Atlantic cooperation, and may result in Europe new divisions though the remains of the former one still have to be dealt with.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to briefly outline our concepts of the future of cooperation, to indicate our intentions and plans and touch on several possible forms of the prospective cooperation.
ungary and the other Central European countries believe that the lasting solution of their security problems lies within their gradual integration into the European and Euro-Atlantic community. Full membership in the available security structures such as NATO and the WEU, continues to be the long-term objective of our country. Before reaching that stage, however, Hungary intends to make use of the current opportunities in security partnership. We need close cooperation and joint actions in security policy designed to gradually develop into the adoption of a common defence policy. We need regular dialogue with NATO and the individual member states on crisis prevention and -resolution, on issues of arms control and nonproliferation, and we need coordination with this organization, for example in the implementation of CFE agreements, with special emphasis on verification and monitoring activities.
I am convinced that joint programmes with Central and Eastern Europe are instrumental in promoting the principle of democratic civilian control of the armed forces and in enhancing military professionalism in the region. We therefore propose the regular participation of our experts in working groups and other fora of NATO.
The Atlantic Alliance might also assist us in training the officers or civilian defence managers of our countries in NATO colleges. These educational programmes could contribute to the remodelling of our armed forces and to the dissemination of information on the North-Atlantic Alliance.
Besides NATO, Hungary intends to develop contacts with the Western European Union, too. In order to facilitate communication between Central Europe and the nations of the Euro-Atlantic Community, regular consultations on security matters and the further development of contacts with the WEU could also be of great benefit. Hungary has already been associated with the EU; the Maastricht Treaty described the WEU as the “security component” of the Political Union; hence joining WEU in a parallel and gradual way would be a logical and desirable step. These measures may also help to promote our future convergence with the European and North American nations in every field.
After decades of artificial division, at the end of this century we are facing the challenge of creating a new unity for our continent. This unity is just as much in of the interest the “West” as of the “East” of Europe. It is the conditions under which we are going to be able to find our common path, to meet the requirements of the 21st century that are at stake now. The mutual accommodation process calls for receptivity on the part of one side and the creation of appropriate, compatible internal conditions on the part of the other.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I know that my presentation may not have encompassed all the details and aspects of the topic.
Many things could and should be addressed relative to the title issue. The time available does not allow for this.
I do hope, however, that I have succeeded in throwing some light on several dilemmas and on the major priorities of our security policy. Some of the above mentioned points will have been dealt with at length by other speakers.