On Thursday, 11 November, as a member of the delegation headed by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Minister of Defence Tibor Benkő attended the 5th meeting of the Turkey-Hungary High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council. On the margins of the event, he held a bilateral discussion with his counterpart, Turkish Minister of National Defence Hulusi Akar. Speaking in Ankara, Defence Minister Benkő stated that Turkey is an important strategic partner of Hungary in terms of military cooperation, therefore the two countries will conclude a framework agreement to further strengthen and expand this partnership.
At the meeting, Tibor Benkő emphasized that the defence cooperation and military-to-military relations between the two countries are excellent, which creates a solid basis for stepping forward. During the day, the delegations discussed several areas and forms of this cooperation. In connection with the strengthening of mutual relations between the two countries, the ministers’ plans include military higher education, the analysis of lessons learned in the pandemic caused by the coronavirus and joint participation in various exercises. In the near future, expert-level working groups are to be set up to make preparations for the above.
Tibor Benkő added that the Hungarian Defence Forces are not only ready to share military experience, but are also open to build further cooperation in the special fields of personnel replacement, combat search and rescue and survival, evasion, resistance, escape and extraction.
Turkey is an important ally in counter-terrorism and has an outstanding role in maintaining regional and European security, as well as in preventing mass migration, a threat to the European Union, added the minister of defence.
During their meeting, the two ministers discussed some current issues of the migration crisis. According to Turkish Minister of National Defence Akar Hulusi, the migration pressure on Europe will inevitably increase, and this will generate more and more tension on the Western Balkans migration route. On a related note, Tibor Benkő reaffirmed that Hungary is prepared for the migration crisis situation to unfortunately stay with us for a while, in consequence of which subsequent waves of migration will reach Europe. We must protect our national borders and develop forms of regional military cooperation that guarantee the security of Europe.
The ministers stated that both countries regard the security of the Western Balkans as especially important. Turkish and Hungarian troops are serving together in KFOR in Kosovo and in Operation EUFOR Althea in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
During the discussion, Minister Akar welcomed the Hungarian general’s assuming of the COMKFOR position. At the meeting, Tibor Benkő thanked the Turkish military for its contribution to the staff of HQ MND-C. According to the Hungarian minister, the importance of the initiative is well shown by the fact that besides the three framework nations Croatia, Hungary and Slovakia, another six countries are participating in the joint work: Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and, of course, Turkey.