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Strengthening Hungarian–French relations

Text: Ferenc Antal, Vivien Takács | Photo: WO Lajos Szabó, Kinga Szováthy |  16:14 March 25, 2022

On Wednesday, 23 March a reception coupled with an award ceremony was held at the French ambassador’s residence in Budapest. Among others, MoD Deputy State Secretary for Defence Policy Dr. Gergely Németh was also among the recipients of the decorations. On Thursday, 24 March, Major General Zsolt Sándor, Deputy Commander, Hungarian Defence Forces received the French delegation on an official visit.

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Pascale Andreani, France’s ambassador to Budapest awarded the Knight class of the National Order of Merit to Dr. Gergely Németh, the deputy state secretary for defence policy of the Ministry of Defence.

Turning to the deputy state secretary, Pascale Andreani said: “You are the one who, after a long pause, revived the strategic consultation of defence policy leaders between France and Hungary. We have common projects, mainly in the regions where Europe’s security is threatened, too”, said the ambassador with reference to the Sahel, as well as to the Takuba Task Force established under French command, which was recently joined by Hungary as well. “I hereby hand you the decoration Knight of the National Order of Merit for your personal commitment to French–Hungarian defence relations”, emphasized Pascale Andreani.

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In his speech, Gergely Németh said that it was his unparalleled honor to receive the decoration. He emphasized that “Thanks to the dedicated and mutual efforts made in recent years, France and Hungary are strong allies of each other in the present changed security situation”. The deputy state secretary for defence policy added that the two countries collaborate in the European Union and NATO, as well as in joint training programs and foreign missions, and also on the commissioning of weapons systems.

French Air Force Major General Laurent Marboeuf, Head of Department, International Military Relations of the Ministry of Armed Forces gave a speech, in which he emphasized that Lieutenant Colonel Pál Zoltán Horváth, Captain Mihály Sándor, Lieutenant István Bodnár as well as First Lieutenant Gyula Tóth have provided outstanding support to the French armed forces through the quality of their service. The major general presented Lieutenant Colonel Pál Zoltán Horváth, Captain Mihály Sándor and Lieutenant István Bodnár with the Overseas Medal for their service on a peacekeeping mission with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). Major General Laurent Marboeuf awarded First Lieutenant Gyula Tóth the Bronze level of the National Defence Medal for his service in Lille, France. The National Defence Medal rewards honorable service, rendered by French or foreign military personnel, to national defence and to the benefit of the population.

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Also present at the ceremony were Government Commissioner for Defence Development and National Armament Director Dr. Gáspár Maróth, and Brigadier General Balázs Szloszjár, Deputy Head of the Hungarian Defence Forces Command Operations Directorate.

On Thursday, 24 March, Deputy Commander of the Hungarian Defence Forces Major General Zsolt Sándor received the French delegation in the Ministry of Defence.

The topics of the bilateral discussion included, among others, the Russia–Ukraine war, about which it was stated that Hungary supports all the decisions taken by NATO and the European Union. Moreover, it has and will provide adequate care for all refugees arriving in Hungary.

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Major General Zsolt Sándor also told the French partners that this crisis is also a good indicator that the development of the Hungarian Defence Forces is more important today than ever before.

In the topic of Hungarian–French defence cooperation, the two sides discussed Hungary’s participation in the Takuba Task Force established in the subordination of Operation Barkhane, the scope of cooperation in military medicine, the procurement of H225M helicopters and the scientific cooperation between the two countries. Both the French and the Hungarian sides pointed out that the objective to be attained is the further strengthening of military cooperation.

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