Embassy of the United States of America
May 4, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ambassador Pressman Visits U.S. Servicemembers Near Veszprém
On May 4, U.S. Ambassador to Hungary David Pressman traveled to Camp Croft near Veszprém to meet with U.S. servicemembers serving in the 1st Squadron, 32nd Cavalry Regiment. Following a meeting with senior leadership, the Ambassador delivered remarks and met servicemembers. The Ambassador said:
Colonel Sharp, Lieutenant Colonel Mickley, Sergeant Major Peña, Sergeant Major Olivas, soldiers of the 1-32 CAV “Bandits”, 101st Airborne Division, it is an honor to be here with you today.
The world famous 101st Airborne “Screaming Eagles.” You carry on the rich and storied tradition of excellence the 101st has fought and died to earn. From storming the beaches of Normandy on D-Day to combating terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq, the 101st Airborne has served, and continues to serve, a vital role in securing American values around the world.
I know carrying this historic burden is not always easy. This life of service you have chosen comes with hardship: weeks and months away from family and loved ones, often living, and working in hostile environments, putting your lives on the line for the idea that is America. As someone who, like you, has sworn an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, I honor your service. And I am willing to bet that many here, probably all of you, do not see your service as a burden. You see it as a responsibility. You are privileged to represent the United States of America because in doing so you fight to uphold the very values that make our nation strong.
One source of our strength is our alliances. You are here because Hungary is, for almost 25 years, a member of the NATO alliance. NATO is known as a military alliance, but it is more than that: it is an alliance of democracies. We are stronger together with our allies, not only because the combined military assets and capabilities of 31 nations make us the most formidable fighting force the world has ever seen. We are also stronger together because we have made and kept a treaty commitment to defend one another as we would ourselves. After all, NATO’s foundational principle is that “an attack on one is an attack on all.” And as President Biden has made clear, we will defend every inch of NATO territory.
But NATO is far more than a set of capabilities or a contract — it is a covenant. What makes it so is that our NATO alliance is based on shared values of democracy and freedom, individual liberty, the rule of law, and human rights. These are the values we hold most deeply, the values we are sworn to defend. So, we are certainly stronger together because of our combined capabilities and collective security commitments. But more than that, it is these foundational, shared values that make us not only stronger, but unbreakable.
When these values — the very values upon which our alliances and our security are based — are threatened and assaulted on our very borders, it matters to us and to our Allies. NATO exists to uphold and defend these values and to stand up to those who seek to undermine and destroy them. And it is these values that I want to focus on today.
You are serving during a time of war and instability in the world. Yes, partially because of Vladimir Putin’s brutal assault on a peaceful, democratic country just next door. A senseless and horrifying attack that has killed thousands of men, women, and children. A pointless war of aggression that has brought horrors to Europe which haven’t been seen for nearly eighty years. A war that never needed to happen, that never should have happened.
The two sides in this conflict could not be more clear. On one side is the victim, Ukraine. On the other is the party of war, Russia. And the United States and our Allies are standing with the people of Ukraine who continue to face brutal attacks, whose children are being forcibly relocated, whose homes are being invaded.
Just yesterday I stood at the Hungary-Ukraine border to see with my own eyes the current situation. Since Putin’s full-scale invasion began on February 24, 2022, millions of innocent Ukrainians have fled, many into Hungary, hoping desperately to escape Putin’s war machine. We must recognize and applaud those Hungarians who opened their homes and schools, hospitals, and workplaces to provide shelter to people they did not know. They provided comfort and security to women and children in desperate need of kindness.
While NATO is not at war in Ukraine, I am heartened by the fact that so many of our Allies along with many other partners around the world understand what is at stake there and are united in their support for Ukraine as it defends its people, its territory, its democracy – indeed its freedom and its very existence – in the face of unprovoked and unjustifiable Russian aggression. Ukrainians are defending the values that we hold dear, that unite us with our allies, and we are proud to stand with them in this defining struggle.
This is the war that demands our sustained attention, but it is not only about tanks and bombs and bullets. The threats we must all defend against – are hatred and intolerance, corruption and greed, conquest, and dominion. While we should be focusing on the hot war on our doorstep, others are focused elsewhere on fake “wars,” on culture “wars”; not on Putin’s military campaign, but on shadowy “globalist” campaigns and conspiracies. These are distractions we cannot afford. This is not about wokeism or culture wars, this is about real war, real values, a real threat, and a real test: a test of our commitment to democratic values in Europe, a test of our belief in the sovereignty of nations, a test of our belief in the power and capabilities of our alliance, of our democracies.
While others may try to distract us with the noise of culture wars and conspiracies, I sleep well at night knowing that the brave men and women of the U.S. Army, as well as your fellows in the Navy, Air Force, Space Force, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps are focused on the urgent threats of the world. I know that you know you are here focused on a very real war: not just Putin’s assault on his democratic neighbor, but his assault on the values that define America– on democracy.
We will not be distracted by politics or cynicism or those with the loudest voices. We will not be deterred by those with only their own interests in mind. We will stand with our Allies and stand up for our partners committed to the values upon which our Alliance is built and upon which our security depends, helping each other to be stronger against would-be “strongmen,” united in this moment where our understanding of Europe – whether borders can be unilaterally redrawn by force – is being tested.
Our nation owes a great debt of gratitude to those serving in our armed forces but know that you are not alone in this larger struggle. The fight for our security and democracy is not only fought in fatigues, there are many others also engaged in this fight. Courageous journalists in independent media – whether in Kyiv, Budapest, or Washington – working to hold politicians accountable for their actions. Diplomats seeking ways to end this war and to prevent others from starting. Dedicated women and men working long, arduous hours for humanitarian relief organizations often with little to no recognition, but simply because it is the right thing to do. To build a better, free, more secure world, we need all of these elements to work together. We are stronger when we stand together, with our friends and with our allies.
When Vladimir Putin chose to invade a peaceful neighbor, he thought the world would stand aside and watch. That we would do nothing, that there would be nothing more than words of reproach, angry letters or resolutions backed with toothless repercussions. He thought the NATO alliance was weak, a remnant of the past, but he was wrong. Nations stood up and declared together that his latest act of aggression would not be tolerated. The world, led by the United States, has imposed serious costs on the Russian economy through sanctions, significantly damaging Putin’s ability to fund not only his current war, but those in the future. We have reinvigorated the NATO alliance, recently welcoming Finland, with Sweden soon to join, making this alliance even stronger. We have provided crucial training and equipment to the brave Ukrainians, allowing them to more than hold their own against the Russian military.
Putin chose this war, but now he and others incredibly try to make the argument that they actually desire peace. Using the same sort of disinformation and manipulation Russia uses to meddle in democracies around the world, they attempt to cast Ukraine, the European Union, NATO, and the United States as the aggressor. And they are buoyed in this effort by enablers who propagate and disseminate Kremlin propaganda. According to Putin everyone is to blame for this war except for Russia. Nothing could be further from the truth.
We want peace. The United States wants peace. We want this war to end. But those who push policies of appeasement dressed up in the language of peace – trying to define those who are standing with the victims of the war as agents of it – are dangerously distracting from the cold realities of what Putin has done and will do. The question is not who wants peace. Rather, it is what are we doing to achieve a genuine and lasting peace.
Let’s be clear: one man can end this war today. If Putin stops fighting, the war ends. If Ukraine stops fighting, Ukraine ends. There will be peace when one man decides it is time to stop his campaign of war. There will be peace when one man withdraws his troops from his democratic neighbor’s sovereign territory.
This moment demands unity, resolve, and it demands strength – not just through our robust military presence – but through our shared values and commitments to democracy and the values that have always united the NATO alliance.
The soldiers of the famed 101st Airborne Division in Hungary today represent the best of what America and our democratic allies stand for. You are here to ensure that our strength, your strength, helps to avoid wars, to prevent wars, even to end wars. You are here because the United States stands up to injustice and stands by our friends because that is in our interest and consistent with our values. We stand by our friends, helping each other to be stronger than the would-be “strongmen” of the world. We build the edifices and ramparts upon which true democratic norms can stand tall and flourish.
The world needs the brave men and women of the 101st Airborne “Screaming Eagles.” Make no mistake that what you do here today matters, and it will resonate through history alongside the actions of your famed forebearers to secure our allies, support our friends, and defend our democratic values.
And that is why I’ve come today to thank you for your service and to shake your hands.
For additional information and media inquiries, please contact the U.S. Embassy press office at PressBDP@state.gov. Ambassador Pressman may be followed on Twitter: @USAmbHungary.