Politics

Hungarian Defense Minister: NATO Guarantees Hungary’s Security

NATO is Hungary’s security guarantee, István Simicskó, the defence minister, said at a NATO Transformation Seminar in Budapest.

Speaking at the opening of the two-day conference, he said that a strong and effective NATO is the cornerstone of security in Europe. Security crises can snowball, so its stability is essential. Europe’s security environment has deteriorated severely in the past few years due to an increased number of destabilised countries in the region, mass migration, terrorist attacks in Europe, the general increase in terrorist activity worldwide and the crisis in Ukraine, he said.

The EU faces difficulties on its southern and eastern borders simultaneously, the minister said, adding that “every problem is an opportunity for joint action” and this can strengthen cooperation and solidarity between the alliance’s member states. Hungary supports a call by US President Donald Trump and Secretary of Defence James Mattis to expand the alliance’s role in fighting terrorism, Simicskó said. Also, it agrees that Europe should do more towards securing its defence. Hungary has a ten-year development plan under its belt to prepare the Hungarian military for new challenges. It is also setting up a new research centre for defence this year, he said.

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NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller speaking at the NATO Transformation Seminar in Budapest (photo: Gergely Botár – kormany.hu)

NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller said the alliance would only remain strong if it succeeded in adapting to change. NATO has faced challenges before, she said, but efficient cooperation, innovation and the member states’ commitment to common objectives always guaranteed success. Apart from investing more in security, clever financing is also essential, she added. Péter Siklósi, the deputy state secretary for defence policy and defence planning, told public television earlier that the conference – this year attended by around 350 participants – tackles current challenges facing the organisation every year. In 2017, the main topics are Russia, the Islamic State terrorist organisation and the fight against terrorism, as well as challenges posed by digital development, he said. Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary General of NATO is attending the seminar today.

Meanwhile Defence Minister István Simicskó met Chairman of the NATO Military Committee Pert Pavel on Wednesday. The talks were attended by chief of staff Tibor Benkő and deputy state secretary for defence planning Péter Siklósi. Pert Pavel appreciated Hungary’s endeavour for launching a large-scale scheme to develop its armed forces, and its commitment to raising its defence spending to 2 percent of GDP by 2026 as expected by the alliance. Simicsko said Hungary did not share the concerns about NATO’s future. “Hungary considers NATO a cornerstone of its security and that of Europe as a whole,” he added.

On 10th of March, the Hungarian Atlantic Council celebrated its 25th birthday. The memorial event of the non-governmental organisation, whose original mission was to promote Hungary’s NATO accession and to contribute to the broadest possible acceptance of Euro-Atlantic principles and values in Hungarian society, was among others attended by Tacan Ildem, NATO’s Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy, who gave an exclusive interview to Hungary Today’s sister-site, the German-language Ungarn Heute. The interview’s English translation can be found here.

via hungarymatters.hu and MTI