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Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky: President Macron’s statement gives cause for concern

Text: defence.hu / MTI | Photo: Sztaniszláv Horváth |  11:08 February 29, 2024

President Macron’s statement gives cause for concern, and that is why it is very important for Hungary to insist on its position of not sending weapons to Ukraine, to urge a ceasefire and to call on the warring sides to start peace talks as soon as possible – emphasized Defence Minister Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky at a meeting held for Hungarian defence, military and air attachés in Budapest on 27 February.


Commenting on French President Emmanuel Macron’s statement that the possibility of sending Western troops to Ukraine cannot be ruled out, Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky said that at this stage of the war, the aggressor seems to be gaining the upper hand, which could force the Western world’s decision-makers to take some form of action.

He said that that “the time of peace in Europe has come to an end, a war is going on in Europe”, two Christian nations have been fighting a terrible, bloody war for two years. “The massacre has yielded no military results, and not even the possibility of any such result is to be expected to develop in the short term” – stated Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky.

He pointed out that the position adopted by the government of Hungary since the beginnings has been unchanged: what is needed is immediate ceasefire and the start of peace talks; under no circumstances would Hungary deliver weapons or send troops into the conflict zone. The peace that must come will be Europe’s new peace as well, so it is highly important who and when attends the peace talks, and the emerging security structure will also influence the next 20-30 years of Europe” – added the minister.

He also said that Hungary is conducting the largest humanitarian operation in its history, with more than a million people arriving from Ukraine since the outbreak of the war; 5,000 Ukrainian children are attending close to 1600 kindergartens and schools in Hungary, 500,000 Ukrainian families have received Hungarian aid; Hungary is helping with reconstruction in Ukraine and is also to join the Mine Action Coalition in an effort to demine the country. Speaking about the situation in the Middle East, Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky stated that the government of Hungary supports Israel’s right to self-defence. He called it important that Hungary should draw attention to the threat of escalation.

In connection with the Africa, in particular the Sahel, the minister noted that Hungary has offered a complex (humanitarian, agricultural, development and defence) support package to Chad. This is significant because the Sahel is “one of the source regions of illegal migration that threatens the security and stability of Europe as a whole.” The government of Hungary has been saying from the beginnings that all problems should be dealt with where they arise, instead of importing them to the European Union – pointed out the minister, adding that Hungary is active in this regard, being aware that actions speak louder than words.

Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky went on saying that the most intense presence of the Hungarian military is in the Western Balkans, as already more than 1000 Hungarian troops are stationed in Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina. This region is of key significance for the security of Hungary – emphasized the minister.

He also added that “globalization has backfired”, and we are in a situation where impenetrable blocs could once again be formed in the world, which is extremely unfavorable for Hungary’s national interest. The minister is of the opinion that Hungary could play an important role in conflict management, and that holding the rotating presidency of the EU Council would provide an opportunity to give greater emphasis to European defence issues.

The minister stated that Hungary belongs to the “elite club” that maintains the 2% GDP defence spending level”, as its defence spendings already met the 2% of GDP guideline last year. Hungary is a recognized and stable NATO Ally – he said, noting that the Hungarian armed forces development program is unprecedented in the European Union.

Recruitment is the most important element of force development – stated Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky. He said that they are continuously increasing the attraction of the military career path through education, training and salary raise, and “this profession is getting valued higher again under the changed security circumstances”. The defence minister explained that recruitment has been transformed, as they are now looking for young people who will operate a specific new, highly digitalized military asset type, and the applicants must be willing to undertake self-denial as well as physical and mental workloads” – the minister said. He added that according to first experiences, this is an effective method of recruitment.

Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky talked about the importance of developing the defence industry, referring to it as “another engine of national economy” and emphasizing the role of the Hungarian supply chain.