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  • Author or Editor: Tamás Magyarics x
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Almost each of the political forces and the great majority of the public saw no alternative to Euro-Atlantic integration, that is, accession to NATO and the EC (after 1992 the EU) when Hungary regained its independence in 1990. Membership in both organizations had a number of internal and external implications too. Budapest had to introduce sweeping reforms in practically all walks of life. Thus, for instance, NATO-membership required the establishment of a parliamentary democracy, a functioning market economy, and the observance of civil and human rights. At the same time, Hungary had to sign so-called basic treaties with three of its neighbors in which it again committed itself to peaceful relations and the renunciation of any attempt to regain territories it had lost to the countries affected after the First and the Second World Wars. EU-membership needed even more extensive restructuring of the various Hungarian institutions from law enforcement through finances to social services. In addition, Budapest expected that one of the major dilemmas of reconciling the so-called “Hungarian-Hungarian” question with the “good neighbor” policy would be settled within the framework of European integration. The expectations on behalf of the two sides have only been partially realized yet. Thus, Hungary consistently spends much less on defense than the required level within the Atlantic Alliance; Budapest has been trying to compensate with a relative prominent presence in foreign missions. As for the EU, the threat of a “second class membership” has not disappeared; in fact, after the beginning of the economic recession in 2008 it has even become a more realistic perspective; in reality, Hungary has had to accept a relative loss of power even in Central and Eastern Europe. However, Hungary has a vested interest in a “Strong Europe” (this was the official slogan of Hungary’s EU-Presidency during the first six months of 2011) in which “more Europe” should not exclude the country’s closer relations with other regions in the world.

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