SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, good afternoon. It’s a great pleasure to be here today with Foreign Minister Balázs. We just concluded an excellent bilateral meeting.
I wanted to just put our relationship into a bit of a historical context. It was 20 years ago this month that Hungarians began taking down the barbed wire along their country’s border with Austria. In the years since, the United States and Hungary have forged an alliance based on common principles and common purposes.
Today, we discussed some of the most important issues on our shared agenda: our mutual defense guarantees as NATO allies, our efforts to work together on everything from economic challenges to Afghanistan, and our determination to stand up for tolerance and human rights. Law enforcement is another important area where we are working together.
In a moment, the foreign minister and I will sign the Protocols of Exchange of Instruments of Ratification for the 2005 U.S.-Hungary Mutual Legal Assistance Protocols and the U.S.-Hungary Extradition Treaty. We expect these protocols will enter into force shortly after related agreements between the United States and the European Union take effect. And these twin agreements will give our police and prosecutors in both countries state-of-the-art tools to cooperate more effectively in bringing criminals to justice on both sides of the Atlantic. They form part of a network of similar agreements that the United States has reached with all the countries of the European Union.
But these agreements, as important as they are, represent one small facet of the relationship that the United States enjoys with Hungary. I look forward to working with the foreign minister as we tackle problems from European security to the Balkans, from human rights in our countries and beyond, to a real sense of working together for a more peaceful, prosperous future.
And we thank you very much for your work and for representing your new government here today.
FOREIGN MINISTER BALAZS: Thank you, Madame. We had, in fact, a very interesting, multifold exchange of views. I had the honor to reconfirm that Hungary, with its new government which is in place since two months now, is a reliable and responsible ally of the United States. We are both members of NATO, and Hungary is making real efforts to play a role in Kosovo, in Afghanistan, and in other crisis areas of the world. In Afghanistan, in the Baghlan district, we are working together with the Ohio National Guard, and this cooperation is really fruitful.
We have exchanged our views about various areas like the neighbors of the EU with a special regard to the Western Balkan area on the one hand, and Russia and other Eastern neighbors on the other. Hungary has got some historical experience in the Balkan region, and we may continue to the common efforts in stabilizing that region.
Apart from this, Hungary, deeply in the heart of the European continent, has seven continental neighbors, which is a special situation. Germany has nine. But we are making big efforts in improving our relations with all the seven neighbors and coming to an end with the historical reconciliation processes, facilitated by our EU membership. Of course, I informed Secretary Clinton about the efforts and the results of the Hungarian Government in managing the economic crisis, reestablishing confidence in our foreign partners and the ambassadors, and I have brought some good news about the positive reactions of the economy improving the exchange rate of the national currency and growing foreign investments in Hungary, including the Mercedes factory, which is going to be built in the center of Hungary.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
MODERATOR: The Secretary of State and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Hungary are signing these two agreements. The first is the Hungary Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, and the second is the U.S.-Hungary Extradition Treaty.
(The instruments of ratification are signed.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all very much.
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