Declaration of the Hungarian American Coalition on the Hungarian Constitutional Amendments and NATO

The Hungarian American Coalition actively and successfully participated in the debate relating to the enlargement of NATO and strongly supported Hungary's inclusion in the first round of expansion. It persuasively argued that Hungary had become a democratic state that would honor its obligations to the Alliance and that support for membership in NATO was widespread, as evidenced by the consensus of the Hungarian parliamentary parties and the favorable outcome of the national referendum.

In its quest for NATO membership, the previous Hungarian government agreed to the Alliance's requirement that new members, including Hungary, would be contributors and not merely consumers of security. The government also understood that further enlargement would depend, to a considerable extent, on how seamlessly the new members integrated into the Alliance and how effectively they carried out the necessary reforms to transform their respective countries into reliable NATO allies.

The Coalition, representing a cross section of the Hungarian American community, is concerned that the proposed amendments to the Hungarian Constitution aimed at facilitating Hungary's full integration into NATO apparently have fallen victim to Hungarian domestic political squabbles that have no relevance to NATO membership. United States officials have expressed their surprise at these unexpected developments and over the breakdown of the consensus that had existed on this vital issue for Hungary. We fear that this unfortunate development will undermine Hungary's credibility, tarnish its image and adversely impact the future expansion of NATO.

We, therefore, urge that statesmanship prevail, Hungary's long-term security interests be placed above partisanship, and all necessary steps be taken to implement the substance of the proposed constitutional amendments to ensure that Hungary becomes a reliable NATO partner.

December 18, 1998

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