Prague, 22 May 1997 (RFE/RL) - In a statement released to mark the occasion of the transfer of Radio Free Europe tapes to the Hungarian government, U.S. President Bill Clinton says that "for more than 40 years, Radio Free Europe has helped keep alive the flame of democracy and promoted freedom of expression behind the Iron Curtain."
RFE, says President Clinton, has "served as a beacon of hope that enabled many Hungarians to believe that the communist regime was neither invincible nor immutable" during "some of the darkest hours of modern Hungary."
Noting that the "many hours of broadcasting" which record "Hungary's struggle toward democracy" have been preserved on tapes, President Clinton says these are "a unique part of the Hungarian cultural heritage." He says the United States "can be proud of the triumph of democracy in Hungary and the role that Radio Free Europe played in making that possible."
The ceremony marking the transfer of the tapes was held today in Budapest. RFE/RL Counselor A. Ross Johnson and the Director General of the National Szechenyi Library, Geza Poprady, signed the agreement on the tapes transfer and President's Clinton's message was read by U.S. Ambassador to Hungary, Donald Blinken.