Hungary is a committed member of the NATO alliance system– stated Defence Minister Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky at the annual military diplomacy conference of military and air attachés held in Budapest on Monday, 3 July.
At the same time, unlike most NATO member states that call for a military solution of the Russo-Ukrainian conflict, Hungary is on the side of ceasefire and peace talks, that is, on the side of peace, said Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky.
Hungary is going its own sovereign way in this issue, despite the fact that it is being placed under great pressure to change sides to the military solution, added the minister.
He said that no sooner had the pandemic ended than the Russo-Ukrainian War began, and the tensions on the Balkans flared up again as well. Meanwhile, the races among the great powers have toppled the world order that we were accustomed to in the last decades. Furthermore, the migration also impacts on the security of Hungarian people, said the minister, adding that in this situation, the task of military diplomacy is to find national, sovereign solutions to the challenges.
According to his words, besides the Russo-Ukrainian War, the Serb-Kosovo conflict has special significance as seen from the viewpoint of Hungarian national security. The armed conflicts emerging in the Middle East and in Africa also threaten Europe, as they favor extremist Islamic jihadist movements, so due to migration, armed terrorists may show up in Europe, said Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky. For this reason, Hungary’s position is that all problems should be solved at the places where they arise, rather than on the borders of Europe.
He emphasized that in these changed circumstances, the development of the Hungarian armed forces has been going on dynamically, steadily and according to plan, which means more than the procurements of military equipment. He added that this cause has never before received so much social, political and economic support as it does today. A decade ago, the government started the comprehensive development of the Hungarian armed forces, and this process has been moving forward uninterrupted ever since.
Besides the professional military, the government also wants to establish a territorial defence component to serve the efficient defence of the home front. Moreover, it is forging ahead with the development of Hungarian defence industry, which also involves research and development besides production. As he noted, the government is creating jobs and contributing to rural development, while it is also able to guarantee the sovereignty of the Hungarian Defence Forces by using our own products as replacements in the military. All in all, Hungary’s defence spending is going to exceed the 2% of its GDP already in 2023, he said.
He also stated that Hungary is actively participating in NATO-led operations. Among others, in KFOR (Kosovo) and in the Baltic Air Policing (BAP) mission, and the Hungarian air force will also join the Slovak air policing tasks until the arrival of new fighter jets in Slovakia, said Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky.
He also noted that in the second half of 2024, Hungary will be holding the presidency of the European Union, which offers an opportunity to represent our security policy interests.
The procurement of new military equipment continues in the framework of the National Defence and Armed Forces Development Program. As a result of previously concluded contracts, further PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzers, H225M multirole medium lift helicopters, Leopard 2A7+ main battle tanks, National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) and Gidrán vehicles will soon enter service, whereas a number of L39-NG military trainers will be commissioned next year.
Reacting to critical remarks in social media about the leaders of national defence, the minister said that “instead of Facebook fighters, we need brave, patriotic and clear-headed Hungarian soldiers who are at last able to quit the mentality of uniformed employees, and move the Hungarian armed forces towards a real, combat ready military organization, the new Hungarian Defence Forces”.