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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 20, November 1997

Hungary NATO Referendum

On 16 November, Hungary voted in a referendum on the following question: "Do you want Hungary to ensure its safety by joining NATO?" 85% of those who voted - 49.25% of the electorate - answered in the affirmative. The threshold majority stipulated by Hungarian electoral law was 25% of the electorate, which the result surpassed - 3.3. million votes in favour out 7.9 million possible voters. This stipulation was only introduced in the summer - the previous requirement was that at least 50% of the electorate voted.

All major parties in Hungary campaigned for a 'yes' vote. No referendum is planned in either the Czech Republic or Poland, the other States currently slated for admission to NATO

Reaction

Hungary

Remarks by Prime Minister Gyula Horn, Press Conference, Budapest, 16 November

"With Hungary joining NATO, a new era begins.. In this country, the people have never been asked before if they wanted to join a military bloc... This is a fantastic result, this shows the will of the people... We had dreamed of good results, but we had not dared dream of 85% voting in favour... [The result sends] an important message to Washington." Remarks by Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs, Press Conference, Budapest, 16 November

"The message of this result to the world is that NATO accession is not the cause of the government but of the people..."

Sources: Hungarians vote to join NATO, Associated Press, 16 November; Hungarians endorse plan to join NATO, Reuters, 16 November; Hungarians vote to back NATO entry, Washington Post, 17 November.

NATO

Press Release (97/141), 17 November

"The NATO Secretary-General, Javier Solana, welcomes the positive result... The support for NATO membership expressed by the high percentage of those who voted demonstrates the broad support among the Hungarian people for membership in the Alliance.

The Secretary-General looks forward to receiving the letter formally expressing the Hungarian Government's desire to join the Alliance and its willingness to meet the obligations and commitments of membership.

Receipt of this letter will mark the formal end of the accession talks and will open the way for the signing of the protocols of accession during the 16 December 1997 meeting of the North Atlantic Council at Ministerial level."

UK

Statement by Foreign Office Minister of State Tony Lloyd, 17 November

"I am delighted by this strong endorsement of NATO membership by the Hungarian people. The British Government is committed to NATO enlargement, which will strengthen the prospects for stability and security for all Europeans."

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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