Hungarian Ambassador Discusses Transatlantic Relations and Iraq
The Honorable András Simonyi, Hungarian Ambassador to the United States, addressed UCLA faculty and students at a luncheon meeting at the UCLA Faculty Center hosted by the Center for European and Eurasian Studies on February 7, 2003.
Published: Friday, February 07, 2003
An expanded and integrated Europe is the best friend the US can have, and the US is the best friend that an integrated Europe can have.
The Honorable András Simonyi, Hungarian Ambassador to the United States, addressed UCLA faculty and students at a luncheon meeting at the UCLA Faculty Center hosted by the Center for European and Eurasian Studies on February 7, 2003. Ambassador Simonyi's visit to California was sparked by his desire to address an audience more oriented to the West than those he encounters inside the Beltway. The Ambassador covered a broad range of topics, including Hungary's progress over the past twelve years, transatlantic relations, anti-American sentiment in Europe, and Hungary's position on the situation with Iraq.
Ambassador Simonyi had been a student at the Karl Marx University of Economics (now Budapest University) in the early 70s, while Ivan Berend, UCLA's Director of the Center for European and Eurasian Studies was Rector of that institution. Ambassador Simonyi was honored to be invited to speak here by Professor Berend, and noted that the Karl Marx University had been a stronghold of liberal thought under Berend's leadership.
Since Hungary's integration into Europe twelve years ago, the country has embraced democracy-it has now had four democratically elected governments, become a member of NATO, is on the verge of entering the European Union, and 75% of its GDP comes from the private sector. Democratic governments, Simonyi argued, have become complacent in maintaining transatlantic relationships because they lack a common enemy. To face contemporary problems, democracies need to focus on economic and strategic challenges, working hand in hand to find solutions to these issues.
Among these challenges is the emergence of the United States as the world's sole superpower and an integrated Europe that may leave some nations feeling diminished. These challenges are at the root of much of the anti-American sentiment in Europe, as well as, he suggested, a not insignificant level of anti-European sentiment in the US. Europe is bigger now, stronger and better able to serve the world. Anti-Americanism in Europe is caused partly by ignorance, complacence and envy-the US is the only super power but the US nonetheless should continue to work with Europe. As Lord Robertson said, "I stand in the middle of the Atlantic, it gets mighty cold, it gets breezes from the East and West, I stand there and I like it." An expanded and integrated Europe is the best friend the US can have, the Ambassador pointed out, and the US is the best friend that an integrated Europe can have. He also supports the view that NATO should play a central role in the development of strong transatlantic relations.
In closing, Ambassador Simonyi discussed the situation with Iraq. Hungary has a clear view on Iraq, which has been arrived at with much difficulty. Hungary and seven other European nations, representing both the old and the new Europe, recently signed a letter in support of the US position on Iraq. While the Ambassador believes that the United Nations should be given time to pursue weapons inspections, he also thinks that Iraq is a threat and a source of terrorism. Taking up arms therefore might be necessary if UN measures fail to produce results, in his opinion. Above all, unity in action is the best hope for a peaceful solution.