Hungarian president notes conflict between globalization, national sovereignty

BUDAPEST, Nov 9, 2000 -- (BBC) Hungarian President Ferenc Madl has said that resolving the contradictions between global processes and national sovereignty will pose a challenge for the coming decades. On the question of whether decisions taken in the name of global control would ultimately curtail the rights of small countries, Madl, who had addressed the UN millennium summit in New York, said that any such decisions would merely regulate existing globalization processes rather than allowing such processes to develop unrestrictedly. The following are excerpts from a report by Hungarian radio on 10th September:

[Presenter] The week's biggest political and diplomatic event was the UN's millennium summit... Peter Zentai reports:

[Zentai] ... Let us look at the assembly hall. [Voice of Hungarian President Ferenc Madl in English in background] Hungarian President Ferenc Madl speaks in English. He was one of over 150 heads of state and government. Like the others, he had five minutes in which to speak, and he kept to this to the second. The aspect of his speech which was special was that he urged a document on the protection of national and other minorities. According to Ferenc Madl, this is a long-standing debt on the part of the UN. The nations should sign a statement which says it is their obligation to respect minority rights, and it should be possible to hold them accountable for this in the Security Council and at other UN forums. At the same time, the speech as a whole began by saying that globalization was an unstoppable process, and that the people of the world must face challenges which require so-to-say global control [Hungarian: globalis kormanyzas].

[Addressing Madl] Mr. President - global control, and at the same time national sovereignty, nonintervention in the nations' affairs, internal affairs. These are contradictory issues. Do you believe that they can be resolved and that the current millennium summit will help to resolve these contradictions?

[Madl] There is no doubt that these contradictions characterize international life as regards politics, security and the economy. It is not likely that these will be resolved from one day to the next. The principle of nonintervention is a classical, greatly protected basic principle of international law, and the same is true for sovereignty, national sovereignty...

These contradictions exist, they were present in the debate here, but they will not be resolved here, nor have they been resolved. The planned declaration will not include a passage allowing national sovereignty or the right to self-determination to be called into question. This will be a serious problem for the coming decades.

[Q] ... Do you not fear that under the heading global control, stronger countries will get smaller countries to do things - countries such as Hungary, although I could refer to any small country. They could be countries which are at peace, with which there are no special problems, but whose independence could nonetheless decrease hour by hour when, in reference to higher economic and other interests, part of their independence must be surrendered. And at the same time it is necessary to get the public to accept this. Do you not see this as a fantastic challenge?

[A] You have asked a very exciting question. It is indeed a great challenge. Interdependence has characterized the world for a long time, in the economy, in politics and in other international relations. Any country which is completely sovereign, which takes its own decisions regardless of the world and surroundings, belongs to the past - there is no such thing now. The essence of European integration is, by means of mutual agreements and decisions by national parliaments based on sovereignty, to transfer certain entitlements to the EU, hence these [entitlements] will not be practiced at the level of member countries...

As regards global control, which you asked about - whether this might not be a means of further curtailing national independence -

[Q] - Yes, because global control will have to take place under the influence of very powerful countries. It will not work otherwise.

[A] No-one interprets global control as being a world government, the UN or any such thing. It is a question of a series of agreements being drawn up which try to bring out the advantages and limit the disadvantages of the globalization process. In this sense, global control, according to the intentions expressed here, serves to control the existing globalization processes and divert them into a legal channel instead of developing completely freely and unrestrictedly.

Original article