Hungary is interested in a strong NATOText: honvedelem.hu/MTI | Photo: President of Hungary Katalin Novák’s facebook page |  09:25 June 7, 2023
The Bucharest Nine (B9) group is committed to further supporting Ukraine and above all, to restoring peace to the country as soon as possible – emphasized President of Hungary Katalin Novák after a summit of heads of state of the B9, a group bringing together Central and Eastern European member states – the eastern flank – of NATO in Bratislava on Tuesday, 6 June.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg personally attended the summit of the Bucharest Nine Group (B9 – Czechia, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Bulgaria), and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky sent a video message. The main focus of the meeting was on strengthening Europe’s security and stability.
At Tuesday’s summit, the Bucharest Nine nations adopted a joint declaration of their commitment to further supporting Ukraine and above all, to restoring peace to the country as soon as possible.
Speaking about the topics of the discussion, Katalin Novák highlighted the “inexplicable, brutal and tragic attacks on Ukrainian civilians”. She said that similarly to most of her fellow presidents, she had personally expressed her sympathies during her earlier visit to Ukraine. The Hungarian head of state added that the declaration adopted on Tuesday condemns Russia’s unjustifiable attack and acknowledges Ukraine’s right to self-defence. She pointed out that the B9 must be ready to provide further humanitarian aid to Ukraine, adding that Hungary has received some 2 million refugees from Ukraine since the start of the war.
Katalin Novák also drew attention to the importance of thinking about Ukraine’s future: as she said, “the Bucharest Nine will also have to be present in the post-war reconstruction of the country and afterwards, too”. However, she warned that “until then, we must be careful not to make unrealistic promises. It is crucial for Ukraine to make military decisions based on realistic expectations.”
The Hungarian head of state said that the B9 supports a perspective for Ukraine to become a member of NATO, and also the open door policy of the Alliance in general. For this reason, “the B9 encourages Ukraine to carry out further reforms to become a member of the EU and NATO”, said Katalin Novák, adding that she had also expressed her concern about the respect for the rights of national minorities in Ukraine.
The President of Hungary also called attention to the importance of the stability of the Western Balkans, which is a fundamental precondition for the stability of Europe as a whole. She noted that geographically, Hungary is located between two crisis zones; for example, recently several Hungarian soldiers were injured in riots in Kosovo, where they served as members of NATO’s KFOR mission.
After Tuesday’s meeting, Jens Stoltenberg highlighted his discussion with Katalin Novák in his own Twitter account, writing that he had conducted a “good talk” with the President of Hungary, a “valued Ally”.
In her social media posts, Katalin Novák also noted that “Hungary is interested in a strong and united North Atlantic Alliance; this is the reason why our country is boosting its spending on defence to 2% of GDP this year, a year ahead of its 2024 NATO pledge”.