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Exemplary Commitment to Security and Defence Policy

Text: Márton Mészáros Navarrai, Eszter Bányász | Photo: Kinga Szováthy, Warrant Officer Lajos Szabó, Sztaniszláv Horváth |  17:10 April 15, 2024

Austrian General Robert Brieger, Chairman of the European Union Military Committee (CEUMC) recently paid a visit to Hungary. The high-ranking military diplomat held discussions with Defence Minister Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó and General Gábor Böröndi PhD, Chief of HDF General Staff.

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Although Austrian General Robert Brieger regularly conducts visits to each EU member state, his stay in Budapest can be viewed as an overture to the military program series of the forthcoming Hungarian EU presidency – which is to start in the second half of 2024 – and its preparatory phase. The CEUMC was received with military honors in Heroes’ Square on Thursday, 11 April. After laying a wreath at the Heroes’ Memorial Stone, the top military leader of the European Union – who has been CEUMC since 2022 – held a discussion with Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó.

Mutual interests

In what followed, speaking at a press conference held at the Ministry of Defence, General Brieger pointed out that the main aims of this visit are to strengthen cooperation and address key issues pertinent to the Common Security and Defence Policy. He added that these days, personal meetings are needed more than ever due to the Russo-Ukrainian War and the current situation at the Red Sea.

At the press conference, General Gábor Böröndi PhD, Chief of HDF General Staff identified the priorities of Hungary’s forthcoming EU presidency, namely crisis management, capability development and defence industry. He stressed that these three priorities fully support the implementation of the EU action plan called Strategic Compass. In this connection, it was stated that we continue to regard the Western Balkans as a region of key importance to us, a proof of which is that in the person of Major General László Sticz PhD, EUFOR Operation Althea has had a Hungarian commander since the beginning of 2024. The Chief of Defence added that we consider the Hungarian defence industry as an integral part of the European Union’s Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB). Finally, speaking about the joint capability development, he stated that in order to support collective decision-making and interoperability, this year Hungary is going to connect its Exercise Brave Warrior with EU’s Exercise Integrated Resolve 2024.

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Defence Minister Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky, and then General Gábor Böröndi PhD also held separate meetings with the CEUMC, so General Robert Brieger had the opportunity to have an insight into results of the National Defence and Armed Forces Development Program among others.

Unambiguous support

In continuing his visit to Hungary, on Friday General Brieger held a lecture with the title “Strategic and Geopolitical Challenges” at Ludovika Campus of the University of Public Service, where he was received by University Rector Dr. Gergely Deli. The military diplomat presented the European Union’s action plan set out in the Strategic Compass as its response to security scenarios, which will enable to political-economic community to significantly strengthen its Common Security and Defence Policy by 2030 as compared to its earlier state. The CEUMC also spoke about the EU defensive maritime security operation EUNAVFOR ASPIDES launched this February, which contributes to restoring and safeguarding freedom of navigation on the Red Sea and in the Persian Gulf.

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In talking about the Russo-Ukrainian War that had broke out on 24 February 2022, the general pointed out that the EU’s support for Ukraine, a country fighting for its own integrity and independence, clearly rests on a solid basis, and went on noting that currently there is a “stalemate” between the two opposing sides of the conflict. He stated that although it is probable that neither of them will win the war in a couple of weeks, we must continue supporting Ukraine, and now there is only a need for strategic fine-tuning.

Speaking about the EU’s military missions and operations, the high-ranking guest praised the first Hungarian command period of EUFOR Operation Althea, and said thanks for the international military assistance in the Sahel, where the security situation keeps deteriorating.

While in the Bálna Defence Centre, the CEUMC saw the interactive exhibition featuring high-tech equipment in service with the Hungarian Defence Forces and the historical exhibitions dedicated to the First World War, and then held a discussion with MP Lajos Kósa, Chairman of the National Assembly’s Committee on Defence and Law Enforcement in the Baron Samu Hazai Hall of the House of Parliament.

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