Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Budapest (Hungary), 18 April 2011
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great honour to visit this great country Hungary at this time.
Thank you Mr. President for you warm hospitality and very kind welcome. I am most impressed by the welcoming ceremony this morning and I regard this as a recognition of your Government for the United Nations.
I am visiting because Hungary is a dynamic member of the United Nations.
It serves on the Human Rights Council and on the board of our newest agency, UN Women.
Hungary is a generous and long-time contributor to UN peacekeeping in Cyprus, Lebanon, Western Sahara and other areas, like in Afghanistan. Above all, I am also here because Hungary is playing an important role in Europe during a period of immense challenge for the region and the world.
Hungary’s historic presidency of the European Union symbolizes the deepening of European reunification.
It has also generated a major new initiative on environmental protection and water management -- the Danube Strategy, as President Pal Schmitt has just mentioned.
I commend Hungary for being a champion of this plan, involving eight nations.
I have had a good meeting with President Schmitt, and I look forward to my sessions later today with Prime Minister Orban and Foreign Minister Martonyi.
We discussed a wide range of critical issues, including the Millennium Development Goals, climate change and nuclear safety as well as the situation in Libya and across North Africa and the Middle East.
Hungary has undergone a remarkable transformation over the past two decades. It has travelled from communism to democracy, from the Warsaw Pact to modern Europe. But that transition has not been without major challenges.
Hungary’s revolution has clear lessons for other countries where people are seeking freedom and change after decades of repression, and I am very encouraged to know that there have already been high-level contacts between Hungary, Egypt and Tunisia.
In that same spirit, as befits its role in the region and internationally, I hope the Hungarian Government will continue to promote its own reforms and uphold fundamental democratic principles.
Freedom of expression is among those bedrock principles.
As I told President Schmitt, the new laws regulating the media must be in line with the European mainstream and Hungary’s own human rights obligations.
I am aware that there have been some concerns raised among Hungary’s European neighbours and around the world and there are similar concerns about certain provisions of Hungary’s new Constitution.
I would therefore welcome the Government’s willingness to seek advice and recommendations on some of these issues from others in Hungary as well as from the Council of Europe and the United Nations.
On Libya, yesterday my special envoy, Mr. al-Khatib, visited Tripoli together with the UN Emergency Humanitarian Coordinator Valerie Amos.
I am encouraged to report that, as a result, the United Nations yesterday reached an agreement on a humanitarian presence in Tripoli.
Meanwhile, our talks on the political situation continue.
Once a ceasefire is eventually reached, Libya will require wide-ranging efforts in peacemaking, peacebuilding and reconstruction.
It is critical that the international community continue to act in concert and work in common cause on behalf of the Libyan people.
Thank you again, Mr. President, for your hospitality and for all that Hungary does to support the United Nations.