Clinton Emphasizes Democracy In Hungary

Posted June 30th, 2011 at 7:00 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called for support of political activism in the Arab world and for resistance to attempts anywhere at curbing freedom of information.

Clinton told an international audience in Lithuania's capital, Vilnius, Thursday that for every advance in information technology, there are forces trying to use such tools as a means of subversion and repression.

She called on fellow participants at a gathering of the Community of Democracies to keep inventing new ways of getting through the “walls,” as she put it, that are used to prevent people from freely communicating.

Lithuania's Foreign Minister Audronius Azubalis said the Vilnius forum is a sign of support to democratic movements in other countries in the region, including Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus.

During her visit to Lithuania, Clinton also is meeting with President Dalia Grybauskaite and Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius, among other officials.

The Baltic country is the second stop on Clinton's European tour to promote human rights and democracy.

The top U.S. diplomat earlier visited Hungary and will travel to Spain on Friday.

Clinton urged Hungary to strengthen its democratic institutions in the face of sharp criticism that the eastern European nation is becoming more autocratic. She also asked Budapest to commit to an independent judiciary, free press and government transparency.

Critics of the Hungarian government have said that a new constitution and media law introduced this year threaten the country's democratic freedoms.

In Hungary and in Lithuania, Clinton drew parallels between the democracies in transition in eastern Europe and the political and social changes in the “Arab Spring” nations of the Middle East and North Africa.

The United States has repeatedly expressed concern about the crackdown on freedom of expression in Belarus, where authorities routinely harass and jail peaceful anti-government protesters.