Baptism of fire Hungary's participation in NATO's Kosovo campaign
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Hungary's unique situation in the Kosovo crisis of 1998/9 stemmed from the country's geographic and strategic position as the only NATO member adjacent to Yugoslavia; further important was the sensitivity regarding Belgrade's behavior toward the national minorities in Yugoslavia in view of the 350,000 ethnic Hungarians in Vojvodina; finally, also vital was Hungary's briefest tenure in the Alliance before the onset of a severe crisis. The dilemma of Hungary at the end of the century approximates that, in a way, of Germany in the cold war. That is national division (of a kind) as well as being situated on the front-line of a conflict. Central and Eastern Europe has been the land of repressed national and ethnical conflicts for almost two centuries. These unresolved conflicts have meant constant threat to European security since the collapse of the communist bloc and still can endanger it. The primary objectives of Hungarian foreign policy after 1989 had been gaining membership in the EU and NATO and maintaining good relations with the bordering countries. The sheer irony of Hungary's participation in the Kosovo conflict is that having achieved one of its main objectives - joining NATO - it became a participant in the war against one of its neighbors.
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