A peaceful solution to the standoff between Russia and Ukraine through dialogue is in Hungary’s interest, Defence Minister Tibor Benkő told public television on Monday.
Benkő also warned against ratcheting up Cold War rhetoric.
Referring to a recent request to station NATO troops in Hungary, Benkő said the country’s Armed Forces had undergone a comprehensive development programme since 2017, resulting in “robust defence capabilities” that NATO had acknowledged. “This is why we say there is no need for a 1,000-strong NATO contingent to be stationed in Hungary,” he added.
In the current situation, Hungary’s armed forces are tasked with ensuring peace and security in the country and the region rather than “show force that would rouse people’s fear and anxiety”.
NATO’s plan for the conflict includes peaceful solutions as well as deterrence, Benkő said.
Referring to his talks with UK counterpart Ben Wallace earlier on Monday, Benkő said Wallace had praised the standard and professionalism of Hungary’s armed forces and agreed there was no need to offer troops to the country.
Responding to a statement by Ágnes Vadai of the opposition Democratic Coalition, who called the defence minister “a tool of Russian disinformation”, Benkő said Hungary’s government had always rejected the notion of foreign forces being stationed in the country. “Riling people up at a time when armed conflict is forming [nearby] is not right,” he said.
Regarding the opposition’s bid to propose legislation forbidding Hungary from leaving NATO or the European Union without holding a referendum, Benkő said the government had made it “very clear” that Hungary is a part of those organizations. The government sees the country’s future as part of those alliances, he said.
featured image via Zoltán Balogh/MTI