Denying international press reports flagged US plans to deploy heavy weapons in Eastern Europe, and “possibly Hungary”, the Hungarian defence minister said in Brussels that the United States had not asked Hungary to be involved in the placement of heavy weapons in the region. Csaba Hende said his US counterpart had talked about six countries in connection with the request to place heavy weapons in central and eastern Europe: the three Baltic states, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria. Press reports last week, which would remain in the area permanently.
Csaba Hende attended the meeting of NATO defence ministers in Brussels yesterday. The performance of Hungary within NATO is “notably good”, the Hungarian defence minister said after the meeting. Csaba Hende said the meeting, held “half way” between last year’s Wales summit and next year’s meeting in Warsaw, was aimed at assessing the implementation of the declaration adopted in Wales. He said the alliance’s security environment was determined by challenges from the Middle East and southern Europe, all of which NATO needs to be prepared for.
Csaba Hende noted that Hungary increased its defence spending by over 8% for 2015 and is aiming for an increase of 22 % next year. He said Hungary was a significant contributor to NATO operations and that Hungary is the first European NATO member state to send troops to the Baltic states for an extended period of time. The minister said NATO was “on the right path” and that it had drawn lessons from the conflict in Ukraine. He said the alliance’s approach should be “dominated” by two pairs of ideas: defence and dialogue along with strength and balance. NATO should establish dialogue with everyone in the interest of peace, and should show strength while upholding balance, Hende explained.
Following discussions with Ukraine’s defence minister on the implementation of the Minsk agreement and further support for Ukraine, Hende stressed that Hungary will continue to support Ukraine and its right to decide on its own geopolitical orientation. He said there is no military solution to the conflict, adding that long-term stability could only be established through “responsible” dialogue. Hende pledged support for Afghanistan and praised the development of the country’s security sector.
via hungarymatters.hu and MTI photo: NATO Flickr