“The Hungarian defence sphere and the Ministry of Defence achieved several significant results in 2023, but we cannot chill out in this year either”, said Defence Minister Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky at a reception held in honor of the members of the Budapest Military Attaché Corps (BMAC) in the “Bálna” Defence Center on 16 January.
Due to the continuously changing security environment and the ongoing wars, we must keep the development of the Hungarian armed forces on a steady upward course, and the contribution of the Hungarian Defence Forces to international military operations is especially significant, considering the size of our forces – said the Minister of Defence in the traditional New Year’s greeting speech for military attachés, and went on giving a picture of focal points in defence policy. Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky said that Hungary is actively contributing to the reinforcement of NATO’s eastern flank: for example, we continue to lead the NATO Forward Land Force Battle Group (FLF BG HUN) and are working to achieve the full operational capability of the Headquarters Multinational Division Centre (HQ MND-C). Hungary’s priority is to contribute to strengthening the stability of the South European region, and therefore we cannot exclusively focus on the Russo-Ukrainian War.
“We condemn the Russian aggression and call for immediate ceasefire and the start of peace talks. We have offered our Ukrainian friends the largest-scale humanitarian activity in our history, but have not endorsed the transport of lethal equipment to the front line by any means, and we are going to pursue this strategy in the future as well”, he summed up.
The military presence of NATO and the EU is of fundamental importance in maintaining a safe and secure environment in the Western Balkans, and this is shown in the mandate of the EUFOR Operation Althea and the KFOR mission. Hungary does not only take its share in Operation Althea launched by the European Union, but will also take over command of the operation at the end of January – the first Hungarian commander of he mission, Major General László Sticz PhD has already arrived in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
“Today the Sahel is a hot spot of global terrorism and the source of increasing migration pressure; its instability directly threatens the security of Europe”, he said, and went on recalling that Chad is the only stable and secure country in what is probably the poorest region in the world, thus Hungary provides a complex support package for the Central African state. Hungary firmly condemns Hamas’ terror attack against Israel, and recognizes the Jewish state’s right to self-defence, he said, adding that we must direct more attention to the Middle East than before, due to recent developments concerning the Houthis in Yemen. Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky also said that this year, NATO celebrates the 75th anniversary of its establishment, and Hungary the 25th anniversary of its accession to the Alliance.
"We firmly believe that it is imperative to develop the European crisis management tools, the EU’s capability development and of course the technological and industrial foundations of European defence, as we are fully aware of the unfortunate situation that the Ukrainian war, the Russian aggression against Ukraine has affected the capabilities and regions of numerous NATO and EU member states”, he stated.
“In 2023, we met the 2 percent GDP NATO baseline and we continue meeting it”, said the minister in connection with the defence and armed forces development program. Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky also noted that the producers are expected to continuously deliver several modern combat systems to be integrated into the renewing defence forces, among them the Leopard main battle tanks, the Lynx infantry fighting vehicles, the NASAMS surface-to-air missile system and the Airbus H225M helicopters.
“In addition, we keep looking for new solutions, possibilities and partners, which we can use to enhance the capabilities of our armed forces”, he summed up, adding that the cutting-edge hardware would be pretty much worthless in itself, without resolute, well-trained and young operators and crews. Speaking at the event, General Dr. Gábor Böröndi, Chief of HDF General Staff emphasized that Hungary, the Ministry of Defence and the Hungarian Defence Forces consider the Budapest Military Attaché Corps an indispensable group of military experts supporting their strategic objectives. “They also had the opportunity to observe close-up our international Exercise Adaptive Hussars 2023, which goes down in history as the largest-scale military exercise in the last three decades. General Dr. Gábor Böröndi also pointed out that the long-term goal of the Hungarian Defence Forces is to be able to renew in all respects.
“For this reason, in 2024 we are carrying on our armed forces development program as well as the ongoing recruitment campaign. We share the basics of national defence in secondary education as well to form the basis for building our national resilience”, he said. Among others, also present at the reception were the leaders of the Ministry of Defence: Parliamentary State Secretary Tamás Vargha, Deputy Defence Minister; Dr. János Czermann, Deputy State Secretary for Strategy and HR policy; Dr. Dávid Klacsmann, Deputy State Secretary for Defence Industry and Procurement; László Hajnik, Deputy State Secretary for Defence Policy; as well as CSM Zoltán Kaszab, Command Sergeant Major of the Hungarian Defence Forces.