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Hungarian American Coalition Issues Statement on the 25th Anniversary of Hungary’s NATO Accession

Washington, DC – On March 12, 1999, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic were officially welcomed as members of NATO at the Harry S. Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, the same location where Truman created the NATO Alliance in 1949. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright referred to Hungary stating, “the lands of King St. Stephen and Cardinal Mindszenty…reside fully and irrevocably in the Western community of nations…”. Today, more than ever, a strong NATO is needed to promote Western democratic values and help us forge a more secure and united future for all.

The Hungarian American Coalition was founded as a response to the fall of communism in Central and Eastern Europe. During the critical years of 1994-1999, Coalition leaders, along with their Polish and Czech counterparts, were proud to play an active role in the development of U.S. policy to expand NATO’s security umbrella to Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. Coalition leaders actively participated in policy meetings at the White House, testified at Congressional hearings, and organized three conferences across Hungary to educate the public on the benefits of NATO Membership prior to the national public referendum in 1997.

It is impossible to overstate the impact of NATO membership on Hungary’s security, peace and prosperity over the past 25 years. The Coalition, through its membership in the Central East European Coalition (CEEC), has remained a committed advocate for the continued expansion of NATO to include countries that are committed to freedom, democracy, and the rule of law, including new members on six different occasions.

Today, NATO remains a vital institution for promoting transatlantic security and liberty throughout Europe and beyond. Long-term peace and security in Europe will only be ensured by NATO’s collective strength and resolve against Russian aggression. Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine reminds the world, once again, of the fragility of peace.

As we commemorate the 25th anniversary of Hungary’s accession, we look back with great pride on the role Coalition leaders played during this historic time. This year, the world also celebrates the 75th anniversary of the founding of NATO itself. This presents an opportunity to recommit ourselves to the values we share, where Hungary and the United States remain strong allies dedicated to the ideals of Western democracy and a Europe whole and free.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Ferenc Somogyi, Hungarian President Árpád Göncz, HAC Chairman Emerita Edith K. Lauer, at the first NATO Conference held in the Hungarian Parliament in 1997
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