[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents Volume 34, Number 41 (Monday, October 12, 1998)]
[Pages 1988-1992]
[Online from the Government Publishing Office, www.gpo.gov]

Remarks Prior to Discussions With Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary 
and an Exchange With Reporters

October 7, 1998

    President Clinton. Let me say, first of all, I am delighted to 
welcome Prime Minister Orban and his representatives of his government 
to Washington. We are very, very excited about what is going on in 
Hungary, excited about his youthful and vigorous and progressive 
    Today we are going to talk about the date that's coming up that 
Hungary is joining NATO--it will be an historic date--and what we have 
to do between now and then. I want

[[Page 1989]]

to talk about the importance of the stability of the region, about 
maintaining our commitments in Bosnia, where, I might say, we would not 
have been able to be successful had it not been for the Hungarians 
making available the base at Taszar for us to operate out of.
    And thirdly, of course, we want to talk about Kosovo. And let me say 
again that I believe it is absolutely imperative that there be a cease-
fire, a withdrawal of troops, that the humanitarian groups get access to 
these hundreds of thousands of people who have been displaced, and that 
negotiations resume. Those are the United Nations' conditions. I believe 
NATO must be prepared to take action if they are not met. But it will 
not be necessary if Mr. Milosevic does meet them.
    So those are among the things we'll discuss today. I think it's very 
important. And Prime Minister, I am glad to have you here. If you'd like 
to make a brief statement, you can, and then I'll let them ask a 
question or two.
    Prime Minister Orban. I'm very much delighted to be here. I'm very 
happy that I was invited to have this discussion with your President. 
I'm very happy to be here as probably the first time in the history of 
Hungary as Prime Minister of an ally to the United States, a future 
member of NATO. And I would express all of the Hungarian citizens' 
gratitude to the President that he was tough enough to convince all the 
Members of the Senate that enlargement of NATO and to involve Hungary 
into the process of enlargement is a step which is not just good for 
Hungary, but it is in the interest of NATO as well. And he was a tough 
fighter to convince everybody around the Western Hemisphere that NATO 
enlargement is in the interest of those countries living in central 
Europe who just got through the occupation of another empire.
    So we consider your President as a person who brought his name into 
the history of Hungary, the Hungarian history, as a person who provided 
security and national independence to Hungary.
    Just for a second, I have a letter to your President, anyway, which 
was sent by Mr. Pachinski, who was your tutor in Oxford and who was my 
tutor in Oxford as well, and I just met him a week ago in Budapest. And 
he asked me to give this letter to you, his best wishes probably you can 
find inside it.
    We will discuss definitely about Kosovo, the Hungarian and foreign 
policies in the Middle East, that they should look for a peaceful 
solution. But if a decision would be taken by NATO, we are ready to 
contribute as an ally to do. Host nation support could be provided. Up 
until now, Hungary and foreign policy was not invited into this action, 
but we are ready to take part. And we will discuss many other points as 
well. It will be too long to explain just now here.
    Thank you very much.
    Q. Good morning, Mr. President.
    President Clinton. Good morning.

Impeachment Inquiry Vote

    Q. When you talk to Members of Congress about impeachment what do 
you tell them?
    President Clinton. Well, first of all, I have received a large 
number of calls from House Members, and I have tried to return those 
calls. I haven't been able to return them all because we have other 
things to do, and I'll try to call the rest of them today. But I think 
the vote should be a vote of principle. It's up to others to decide what 
happens to me, and ultimately it's going to be up to the American people 
to make a clear statement there.
    What I am more concerned about today by far is that they cast some 
votes necessary to advance the cause of our people. The most important 
votes they have to cast are the votes on funding the International 
Monetary Fund so we can continue our economic prosperity; on a budget 
which doesn't raid Social Security--raid the surplus until we fix Social 
Security. They still have a chance to do something for education.
    This Congress has killed campaign finance reform, the minimum wage, 
tobacco reform legislation, even killed the Patients' Bill of Rights. 
But they can still do something on education; they can still help to 
save Social Security; they can still keep our economy going; they can 
still stop the war on the environment that is hidden in so many of these 
bills. It's not too late.

[[Page 1990]]

    And that's got to be my focus in these closing days. What happens to 
me I think ultimately will be for the American people to decide. I owe 
them my best efforts to work for them, and that's what I'm going to do.
    Q. Some Democrats, sir, have complained that they're being pressured 
by the White House on the subject of impeachment. Is that appropriate?
    President Clinton. I think everybody should cast a vote on principle 
and conscience. But I doubt that--I doubt--keep in mind, the proposal 
advanced was developed entirely by Congressman Boucher from Virginia, a 
man who comes from a conservative rural district and who developed it on 
his own, fought for it in the Judiciary Committee, argued it, and said 
that the elemental principle of fairness was that we ought to define a 
standard of what conduct is being judged by.
    So as far as I know, no one in the White House had anything to do 
with the development of the proposal. There have been conversations with 
Members--as I said yesterday, a large number called me. I'm attempting 
to call them all back, and I will try to do that. But I want them--more 
important than anything else to me is that they do the people's work and 
then let--the people will decide where we go from here.


    Q. On Kosovo, how do you placate Russian concerns about NATO 
military strikes?
    President Clinton. Well, I think the most important thing we can do 
is to try to work with the Russians to try to actually avoid military 
strikes by securing compliance with the U.N. resolutions by Milosevic. 
Now, we have done that. President Yeltsin sent a team of senior people 
to see Mr. Milosevic, and once again, as he did last June, he promised 
him that he would comply. He also said he would like some 
representatives from OSCE to come in and see if he was complying.
    Now, if he does that, if he completely complies, he doesn't have to 
worry about military force. But I do not believe the United States can 
be in a position, and I do not believe NATO can be in the position of 
letting tens of thousands of people starve or freeze to death this 
winter because Mr. Milosevic didn't keep his word to the Russians and 
the world community one more time.
    So the way to avoid NATO military action is for Mr. Milosevic to 
honor the U.N. resolutions. That's what should be done.

Middle East Peace Process

    Q. How long do you expect next week's Middle East summit to last 
when they come to Washington?
    President Clinton. I'd be happy if it were over in an hour, but I'm 
prepared to invest as much time as it takes.
    Q. Do you foresee multiple days?
    President Clinton. It might take more than a day, yes. I asked them 
to block out a couple of days to come back because I think it's very 
important that we try to get over these last humps and get into the last 
stage of negotiations. We need to get to final status talks, because, 
keep in mind, the whole thing is supposed to be wrapped up by May of 
next year. And the closer we get to that date without having been at 
least in the final status talks, where the parties have a relaxed 
opportunity, without being up against a timetable, to discuss these big 
issues of the future of the Middle East--the closer we get to that date 
without that happening, it's going to be more difficult. So it is 
imperative that we move on and get this next big step done.
    I'm encouraged that Secretary Albright is in the region today. She's 
going to have an announcement about it later today. I'm encouraged by 
the attitude and the sense of openness I felt from Prime Minister 
Netanyahu and Mr. Arafat the last time they were here. And if they can 
come back with that spirit, we're close enough now that we can get this 
done. And I just hope and pray that that will happen when they come 
    Q. Will you get personally involved throughout----
    President Clinton. Well, I'll be involved quite a bit. I don't know 
what ``throughout'' will mean. I hope they'll be talking 12 hours a day 
or something. I don't know. We'll just have to see what happens. But I 
will be involved constantly throughout the process, yes.

[At this point, one group of reporters left the room, and another group 

[[Page 1991]]

Visit of Prime Minister Orban

    President Clinton. Let me make a brief statement. First of all, I 
would like to welcome the Prime Minister and his team here to 
Washington. We are excited about having him here. We are excited about 
what we have heard about his leadership and the policies of his 
    I want to have a chance to discuss NATO's membership for Hungary, 
and it's coming up here very soon, next year. I want to have a chance to 
discuss the situation in Bosnia--and again I want to thank the 
Government and the people of Hungary for giving us the base at Taszar 
which made it possible for us to do our part in the Bosnian peace 
    And I want to discuss Kosovo, where I believe it is imperative that 
the international community enforce the United Nations resolutions 
requiring a cease-fire, a withdrawal of troops, access for the 
humanitarian agencies to the hundreds of thousands of people who have 
been displaced, and the beginning of negotiations. And I think the 
pressure of NATO is critical to achieving that goal.
    So these are some of the things that I hope to discuss with the 
Prime Minister. Now, perhaps he would like to make a few opening 
remarks, and then we'll answer a couple of questions.
    Prime Minister Orban. If you don't mind, I would like to do it in 
    President Clinton. Sure.
    Prime Minister Orban. It is a pleasure to be here as almost an ally 
of the United States of America, as Hungary's impending membership of 
the NATO is very soon, indeed. We are planning to discuss various issues 
with the President of the United States of America, including NATO 
enlargement, the problems and matters in Kosovo, as well as the central 
European issues.
    I would like to assure the President that Hungary is a factor and 
guarantor of stability in the central European region. And the Hungarian 
Government is making every effort to continue that role as a guarantor 
of stability and security in the central European region.
    We would like to also assure the President that Hungary's membership 
in the NATO will be a benefit not only for Hungary but also for the NATO 
and the United States of America.
    As far as Kosovo is concerned, Hungary has not yet received any 
official request to participate in that, and we hope that there is still 
a possibility for peaceful settlement. But if there is a request, of 
course, just because of our role as an ally in the NATO, we will do our 
best to help resolve the problem.
    We will also discuss various issues concerning the world economic 
crisis, and I would like to--that there is no reason why the world 
should put Hungary in the same box with Russia and the crisis in the 
Russian Federation. And Hungary is not an emerging market. What I would 
like to call it is a converging market.

International Economic Situation

    Q. Mr. President, what will be the impact of the global economic 
financial crisis on Hungary and the Eastern European region? And what 
should the Hungarian Government do to avoid or minimize the impact?
    President Clinton. Well, first, I think that--let me answer the 
second question first. I think the Hungarian Government is doing what it 
should do to minimize the impact by having a sound economic policy. And 
I'm very happy that so far the global economic crisis has not had much 
impact in central Europe.
    Now, eventually, unless we can limit it and then beat it back, it 
will affect all of us because all of us depend upon each other for 
markets, for investments. So even if a country has a perfect economic 
policy, if its investors and the people who buy its products have their 
economies weakened, it will affect that country.
    So what I would hope that Hungary would do, because it has a very 
aggressive and, I believe, progressive economic policy, is to support 
the efforts of the international community to--first of all, to beat the 
crisis back and to limit its reach and then to develop institutional 
responses for the future that will prevent such things for the future.
    But I'm very impressed that central Europe has done so well; Hungary 
has done so well; Poland had done so well; other countries have done so 
well. You should be very happy about that. I think it's a great tribute

[[Page 1992]]

to the confidence that the investment community around the world has in 
your people and your system, as well as to the policies that have been 


    Q. When will the final decision be made on Kosovo, and what will the 
Hungarian role be?
    President Clinton. Well, of course, what the Hungarian role could be 
is something that will have to be decided by Hungary, because until 
Hungary becomes a full-fledged NATO member, any other--if NATO has to 
act, any other participation would be voluntary. But at this point, I 
wouldn't think that Hungary would be involved in that, because what is 
contemplated is the prospect of airstrikes if President Milosevic 
refuses to comply with the U.N. resolutions. I still hope and pray that 
he will comply, so it will not be necessary.
    Now, if he does comply, it may be necessary to have some 
verification group go in. Will that group be under the United Nations, 
under OSCE, or some other place? That's not resolved. Will Hungary be 
asked to participate or have an opportunity to? Not resolved. Then if 
there are negotiations which result in a settlement, there might be some 
request for an international presence to help the parties to honor a 
peace agreement on a third stage there. That's not resolved. So I guess 
the short answer to your question is, no one can know the answer to that 

Crime in Central Europe

    Q. Mr. President, what do you think about the crime situation in 
central Europe and the cooperation?
    President Clinton. Well, first, I think that your Government is very 
aware of it and very much determined to do something about it, because 
we have been engaged in talks to establish a joint strike force, to have 
an FBI presence, to work together. Frankly, I believe that international 
organized crime is going to be one of the great challenges all of us 
face, and it, I suppose, is an inevitable result of the new technologies 
available in the world, that these multinational syndicates now are much 
bigger than ever before. And I think that the only way to deal with them 
is to deal with them together. And I am committed to working with you to 
try to help to reduce the problem in Hungary.
    Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 10:05 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White 
House. In his remarks, the President referred to President Slobodan 
Milosevic of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro); 
President Boris Yeltsin of Russia; Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of 
Israel; and Chairman Yasser Arafat of the Palestinian Authority. The 
President also referred to the Organization for Security and Cooperation 
in Europe (OSCE). Prime Minister Orban spoke in Hungarian to the second 
group of reporters, and those remarks were translated by an interpreter. 
A tape was not available for verification of the content of these