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The Voice of Central Europe is Needed

Text: defence.hu / MTI | Photo: Sztaniszláv Horváth |  13:38 April 26, 2024

Nowadays, when numerous countries in the world are in a fever of war, peace is the most important to Hungary – said Defence Minister Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky in Budapest on Thursday, 25 April following his discussion with the defence ministers of the CEDC (Central European Defence Cooperation).

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Speaking about the war in Ukraine, the minister emphasized that Hungary’s position is clear, immediate ceasefire and peace are needed. He added that now, when the risk of escalation is growing, it is especially important that Hungary represents this approach in every forum. In connection with the CEDC, Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky underlined that the countries participating in it share a common history, common roots and common geographic location, therefore, they must have a dialogue as open and honest as possible about the distinguished issues of the region. He also added that Hungary’s interest is to maintain this dialogue and that the region preserves its determinant position, which it has always occupied in history. The voice and opinion of Central Europe are needed now, again – he said. The goal of the CEDC, established in 2010, is to contribute to the strengthening of regional security. The cooperation was initiated by Austria and its members are Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia. This year, Hungary is holding the annually rotating presidency.

Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky told us that the defence ministers of 11 countries were invited to the conference in Budapest. Besides the ministers of the six founding nations, those of the countries of the Western Balkans also join the discussions. According to the minister, the Western Balkans countries are characterized by fragile security, therefore, it is important to support their efforts to achieve EU integration. He recalled that Hungary has been a member of the EU for 20 years and of NATO for 25 years now, so we know the high significance of the membership and the fact that these international organizations contribute to the security and prosperity of the country. We want to enhance this stability and security in the case of the Western Balkans countries as well – he said.

The minister also recalled that there are ongoing military missions in the countries of the Western Balkans, such as the NATO KFOR mission in Kosovo and the EU Operation ALTHEA in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the commander of which has been Hungarian Major General László Sticz since January. The minister also talked about the ongoing preparation of the academy for the military training of the Western Balkans countries, which was initiated by Austria, as well as the development of drones with NBC (nuclear, biological and chemical) sensors.

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Austrian Defence Minister Klaudia Tanner emphasized at the press conference that the Western Balkans countries must be supported on a European level because the EU is incomplete without the Southeast European countries. She congratulated Bosnia and Herzegovina on beginning their accession negotiation with the EU. The Austrian defence minister underlined that to Austria, regional cooperation and military-political dialogue are important and indispensable for success. She added that the EU must be a strong partner to the Western Balkans countries for the sake of the peace in Europe. The next presidency of the CEDC will be held by Slovakia in the following year.

Slovakian Deputy Defence Minister Martin Vojtasovic said at the press conference that he appreciates the Visegrad Group (V4) and the CEDC, and they are interested in continuing cooperation. What matters is not whether we are all from a like-minded political group but the common efforts and possibilities that we could not achieve on our own – he said. He indicated that they support the EU integration of the Western Balkans countries. At the same time, he called attention to the fact that security is in danger “on several fronts”, therefore, analysis, cooperation, coordination and exchange of information are indispensable, for which CEDC provides opportunity.

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