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Defense Minister Explains Hungary’s Standpoint to German Media

Mariann Őry 2022.12.06.

The Hungarian Defense Minister spoke to Berliner Morgenpost about the war in Ukraine, illegal migration, and the negotiations with Brussels about Hungary’s EU funds.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms Russia’s attack on Ukraine. It is unacceptable that in today’s times a civilized country attacks another civilized nation,” Hungarian Minister of Defense Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky told German newspaper Berliner Morgenpost.

“Hungary is on the side of peace, we want an immediate ceasefire, we demand the end of violence and the beginning of peace talks,” the minister said.

The defense of the Hungarian national minority living in Ukraine is our top priority,

he stressed.

Responding to the question of why Hungary is the only EU country besides Austria not to supply weapons to Ukraine, Szalay-Bobrovniczky said that Hungary wants to avoid being involved in the war. “We will not achieve peace if we deliver weapons across our borders to Ukraine,” he underlined. The minister noted that Hungary has helped about a million refugees from Ukraine, many of whom have stayed in the country.

He called Hungary’s relationship with Russia as “very pragmatic.”

Hungary depends to a large extent on energy supplies from Russia,

the minister explained, which is why the government has been fighting for an exemption from energy sanctions.

According to Szalay-Bobrovniczky, the government considers NATO a key pillar of the country’s defense policy and the guarantee of its security. “We will spend two percent of our GDP on defense from 2024. We are building a strong defense industry. Our air force is participating in NATO air surveillance in the Baltics,” he continued.

The issue of Sweden’s and Finland’s future membership was also discussed, as Hungary and Turkey are the last NATO members left to ratify their bids. The minister stressed that the government is “very much in favor of admitting these countries, which are an excellent military fit for NATO.” He pointed out that the government has already approved their membership, and now it is up to parliament to ratify NATO enlargement, probably in February, when they reconvene. Szalay-Bobrovniczky said that currently, parliament is busy with European issues, having passed seventeen laws to meet the European Commission’s requirements for releasing its EU funds, which has yet to happen.

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Speaking of the negotiations between the Hungarian government and Brussels, the minister said that

the freezing of EU funds is merely a political tool in the hands of the European Commission.

He stressed that the government declared zero tolerance against corruption. “We have made a lot of progress, but there is more work to be done, we will make additional efforts to fight corruption,” Szalay-Bobrovniczky said, adding that he is sure that “in the end, the EU funds will flow.”

According to the minister, illegal migration at Hungary’s southern border is a major concern for the nation’s security. “We were very heavily criticized during the refugee crisis in 2015 and 2016 for protecting our border with a fence. In the meantime, other countries are following our approach,” he noted. Szalay-Bobrovniczky pointed out to the German newspaper that the number of attempted illegal border crossings has doubled this year and gangs of smugglers are becoming increasingly aggressive, equipped with handguns and attacking each other.

Szalay-Bobrovniczky attended the Berlin Security Conference last week.

Featured photo via MTI/Bús Csaba

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