Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks Following Discussions With General Secretary Karoly Grosz of Hungary

July 27, 1988

The President. Mr. General Secretary, your visit has been an important success. It marks an historic stage in U.S.-Hungarian relations which began with the return of the Crown of St. Stephen 10 years ago. In your meetings with American Government leaders, with leaders of both parties, and with businessmen, journalists, and others, you've exchanged views on a broad range of topics; and we've been impressed with your openness to new ideas. We're encouraged by your recognition that economic reforms cannot succeed unless they are accompanied by political reforms as well. And this lesson has been demonstrated many times in the recent history of Eastern and Central Europe. We know that Hungary faces difficult economic and political choices. The decisions that you and your government will have to make and implement in the coming months will set the direction of Hungary's development over the next decade.

We Americans regard Hungarians as a people of great talent, a people who have contributed significantly to America's own development. We know that in Hungary itself the Hungarian people can better their society and their economy if the greater freedoms and reforms now being discussed are steadfastly implemented.

From our talks, Mr. General Secretary, I believe that you're intent on providing the kind of leadership that will give scope to the energy, ingenuity, and vision that Hungarians possess in such abundance. I hope you'll take with you some new ideas about America. I hope you'll remember what you've seen here about the strength to be found in a society that is free, in a society committed to upholding fundamental human rights and open to diverse opinion and talent.

You take with you our best wishes for success. We will be watching developments in Hungary closely and hope to continue working together for the further development of good relations between our two countries. Know that you return to the people of Hungary with the best wishes of the people of America.

The General Secretary. Distinguished Mr. President, I thank you for your kind words honoring me and for the meaningful discussions we have just concluded. I wish to express my thanks for the invitation of the U.S. Government and the program which has provided with it richness in both work and impressions. I had great expectations as I had set foot on U.S. soil more than 40 years after the last Hungarian Prime Minister in office. Now as I approach the end of the trip, I can tell you that I consider it to be useful and successful and promising for the expansion of the relations between our countries and our nations.

I was pleased to take this opportunity offered by a personal meeting to convey the high regard of the Hungarian people to you, Mr. President, for the results of historical proportions which you and General Secretary Gorbachev have achieved together in the area of disarmament. The improvement of Soviet-American relations and the international climates helps the small countries in these areas. The Government of the Hungarian People's Republic will do everything in its power to become part of the effort which the two of you, Mr. President, represent.

Hungary has to face enormous tasks today. It will reorganize its economy. This can only be done, we are aware, if the citizens will enjoy more rights, more freedoms. Therefore, we are modernizing our political system and our political practice. In this effort, we are counting on all our partners—the leaders, the statesmen, in fact, the people, who wish us well.

I was very pleased to have had the opportunity to meet in your beautiful country Americans who have once come from Hungary. It was so pleasing to see the close contacts and feelings towards Hungary while they are very useful and able citizens of yours. We will continue to make these relationships even more free, even more happy.

I wish the people of the United States much success, happiness, and good health to your President; and I am very grateful for making possible the marvelous experience of my visit in this country. I am confident that we have all become richer through it. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 1:32 p.m. at the South Portico of the White House. The General Secretary spoke in Hungarian, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter. Earlier, the President and the General Secretary met in the Oval Office and then attended a luncheon in the Residence.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks Following Discussions With General Secretary Karoly Grosz of Hungary Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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