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Release No: 383-98
July 22, 1998


Today in a ceremony at the Pentagon, Deputy Secretary of Defense John J. Hamre awarded Donald M. Blinken, former U. S. Ambassador to Hungary, the Department of Defense Public Service Award for distinguished public service from December 1994 to August 1997.

"America has been fortunate throughout its history to have the right leader in the right job at the right time. Ambassador Donald Blinken did just that. At the critical moment when America needed to move troops to Bosnia, but lacked an adjacent logistics base, Ambassador Blinken picked up the challenge and skillfully worked with the government to secure access arrangements in Hungary," said Hamre. "His tenure in Budapest immeasurably strengthened security in Europe at a crucial time and brought Hungary and America closer together. We are grateful for his vision and energy."

The award recognizes the critical role Blinken played as ambassador to Hungary in assisting the U.S. military's operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Blinken negotiated and obtained Hungarian government approvals necessary to permit the U.S. Army Europe (USAREUR) to transit and establish a military presence in Hungary in support of operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Within an extremely short period of time, without procedure or precedent, his diplomatic initiatives allowed the USAREUR to successfully deploy and sustain the national military commitment in support of the Dayton Peace Agreement.

Blinken's many efforts will have an enduring, positive impact on the U.S. - Hungarian bilateral relations for the years to come.

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