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Peace in the Western Balkans is one of Hungary’s most important security policy interests

Text: honvedelem.hu/MTI | Photo: Kinga Szováthy |  17:00 March 11, 2023

Peace in the Western Balkans is one of Hungary’s most important security policy interests, since it is at once a guarantee of European peace. To achieve and maintain it is a testing challenge, emphasized Deputy Defence Minister MoD Parliamentary State Secretary Tamás Vargha in Kecskemét on Sunday, 26 March during the welcome home ceremony of the maneuver company of the HDF KFOR Operational Reserve Battalion returning from Kosovo.

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Speaking at the base of the HDF 101st Aviation Wing, Tamás Vargha said that in view of the security policy interests of the country, Hungarian troops have been participating in operations conducted in the Balkans since 1995. Hungary has been contributing staff officers and a contingent to the ongoing NATO-led KFOR operation since 1999.

The state secretary stated that Hungary has been on the side of peace since the beginnings, but the defence of the country requires strength and preparedness, and we must participate in peace support operations in the framework of the Alliance.

He pointed out that the country needs good and modern armaments, but besides that, it also needs committed, patriotic and well-trained soldiers. The high-level work done by the more than 100 troops of the HDF KFOR Operational Reserve Battalion has “earned further good reputation for the Hungarian Defence Forces”, noted Tamás Vargha.

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Speaking at the Kecskemét airbase, Lieutenant General Romulusz Ruszin-Szendi PhD, Chief of the HDF General Staff said that the members of the reserve battalion have demonstrated again to Hungary’s allies that “one can count on the Hungarian soldier”. As he said, in last December they could not speak about the decision made by the NATO forces to reinforce the unit deployed abroad due to the deteriorating security situation in Kosovo. The now returning KFOR Operational Reserve Battalion has completed this tour of duty, and its troops have performed nearly 250 tasks, added the lieutenant general.

At the end of the welcome home ceremony, the members of the KFOR Operational Reserve Battalion who arrived home aboard two Airbus A319 troop carrier aircraft were blessed by Reformed Field Chaplain Lieutenant Colonel Gergely Hankóczy.

In support of NATO’s role in the Balkans, relating to the COMKFOR position, Hungary offered the placing of a battalion on standby for the year 2022. The personnel of the HDF KFOR Operational Battalion were drawn from the Hódmezővásárhely-based HDF 30th Mechanized Infantry Brigade during the entire standby period. Due to the events occurring in North Kosovo in December 2022 – the rising tension between Kosovan Serbs and the Albanian population, the blocking of the roads leading to border crossing points, detonations, shooting incidents – the Hungarian Defence Forces deployed one maneuver company of the Operational Reserve Battalion to Kosovo in late December. The company participated in patrol tasks, operated observation posts and performed standby service.