Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met today with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Budapest. Following their meeting, Secretary Clinton said:
"...I am delighted to be back in Budapest, and on such an auspicious occasion. The United States admires greatly the progress of the journey that Hungarians have taken over the last 21 years. And we feel a strong affinity with Hungarians because of our mutual belief and commitment to fundamental freedoms. And yesterday and today gave us that opportunity to demonstrate in a tangible way our strong connections. The celebration of the centennial of President Reagan's birth with the new statue and then, of course, the inauguration of such an extraordinary Hungarian American, Tom Lantos's institute to continue the work that he did during his lifetime.
"The prime minister and I reaffirmed the strong ties between our countries. We are NATO allies, we are economic partners, and we are friends. Our discussion was productive and far-ranging. We talked about our mutual commitment in Afghanistan, where Hungary's contributions have been outstanding. We talked too about the important work that Hungary is doing at home as well as through the presidency of the EU to ensure that the Roma people enjoy the same rights and freedoms as any other Europeans. And I deeply appreciate the decisive steps the government has taken to eliminate hate crimes against its Romani citizens.
"We are strongly supportive of the prime minister's commitment to rebuild and strengthen Hungary's economy. We think that the steps that are being taken to open the economy, to rely more on trade and investment as major economic drivers are absolutely right. We applaud the effort to eliminate corruption that discourages foreign investors and entrepreneurs. And we also talked very openly about preserving the democratic institutions of Hungary and making sure that they continue to grow and strengthen, including providing essential checks and balances.
"As friends of Hungary, we expressed our concerns and particularly called for a real commitment to the independence of the judiciary, a free press, and governmental transparency, because it's important not only for Hungarians that this great democratic journey that our two countries are on -- we for somewhat longer than you -- but certainly sharing that commitment that we continue to exemplify democratic values and freedoms, first and foremost for the benefit of our own people and for the transatlantic alliance, but also as examples for those who are struggling to define their own democracies now in the Middle East and North Africa.
"We look forward to enhancing our cooperation. I think Tom Lantos has laid out a path for both of our countries to follow, and we will work with Hungary to not only expand economic opportunity, but to strengthen democracy and to promote human rights. And I very much appreciate the warm hospitality and the very good discussion that we've had on a lot of issues today."
You can read the full transcript here.