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“Hungary must not plunge into the war!”

Photo: Szebáld Szakál |  11:50 July 17, 2023

Hungary and NATO must not plunge into the war in Ukraine – stated Defence Minister Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky in the program “Vasárnapi újság” (Sunday News) of Kossuth Radio on 16 July.

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Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky said that NATO’s position is essentially the same as Hungary’s with regard to the point that Hungary and NATO must not plunge into the war. Neither Hungary nor the Alliance are supplying lethal equipment in this conflict; instead, Hungary, and also NATO as an organization, are working hard to prevent the escalation of the war. At the same time, several NATO member states are using a warlike rhetoric.

By contrast, Hungary firmly stands for the need for immediate ceasefire in the conflict, the start of peace talks and the restoration of peace as soon as possible. This is a minority standpoint, but a discernible change is already occurring in the atmosphere, emphasized the minister. According to Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky, it is apparent that the military solution, which is being pushed by both sides, will not be successful. At the Vilnius NATO Summit, Ukraine was not invited to the Alliance because “neither Ukraine nor the situation are ready for the country to join NATO”. Ukraine’s sovereignty is in serious danger, partly because it is at war. And a country at war would plunge the whole Alliance into the conflict” – said the minister.

The Minister of Defence emphasized that even amidst the war situation, Hungary continues developing its armed forces: this year, our country reaches the defence spending target of 2% GDP expected by NATO, and – based on the budget approved with the majority vote of the ruling parties – the same amount will be allocated in next year’s budget as well. Although this should be a NATO core principle, the decisive majority of European countries have not even tried to meet it. He added that another NATO guideline says that 20% of the defence budget should be allocated to development, and already for several years, this proportion has been much higher in Hungary.

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“This is taking us gradually closer to a Hungarian military force capable of exhibiting adequate deterrence while we are also increasing our national resilience”, said the minister. In his words, more and more people are realizing the importance of the armed defence of the homeland. As he said, “peace requires strength”, and for this reason it is important for us to assume the budgetary burden involved in it, to train excellent NCOs (see our photo above) and establish a system of territorial defence. All these steps point towards the “maintenance of our national resilience and through it, our deterrence”, he said.

Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky said that the start of the development of the Hungarian armed forces several years earlier had been very well timed. This means more than the procurement of military equipment, since organizational transformation and the change of mindset on identity are at least as much important. In the future, the Hungarian armed forces will rest on two components: the professional military made up of career soldiers, equipped with high-tech assets and having a base-like disposition in the country, as well as the territorial defence regiments with the territorial defence command, which mostly consist of reservists.