Commemorating NATO’s 70th anniversary, the Hungarian Atlantic Council held its Christmas party on Tuesday. All the illustrious NATO representatives in Hungary were invited to the event, including the NATO ambassadors in Budapest, the defense, military and aerospace attaches. In his speech, the president of the Hungarian Atlantic Council (HAC), E. Sylvester Vizi, emphasized the North Atlantic Alliance’s importance for Hungary and the world. Later, István Szabó, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Defense presented the Hungarian government’s achievements in the field of military developments.
As a non-governmental organization, the Hungarian Atlantic Council represents the bridge between the public and the government. “We represent the voice of the people,” Professor E. Sylvester Vizi said at the beginning of his welcome speech.
Professor E. Sylvester Vizi is the former president of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA) and also the current Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Friends of Hungary Foundation, publisher of Hungary Today and its sister site, Ungarn Heute.
Recalling the words of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, the president of the Hungarian Atlantic Council highlighted how deeply Hungary and the Hungarian Government has been committed to the North Atlantic Alliance. He also emphasized that not only is NATO 70 years old this year, but also Hungary’s membership had just turned 20 years old in the “most successful alliance to ever exist in history”.
Vizi also welcomed NATO’s latest decision to turn its attention to the issue of migration and to the security risk illegal migration and terrorism represent in today’s world.
After last Wednesday’s NATO summit in London, the leaders of the Alliance issued a communique called the London Declaration. The document underlines the members' commitment to defend each other in times of trouble. The declaration listed Russia, terrorism, and the 'instability beyond our borders' contributing to irregular migration as today's greatest threats. After the summit, Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán highlighted that NATO had finally acknowledged that mass migration from the south poses a security risk, something the Orbán government has been saying for years, since 2015.
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The president also emphasized that the most important thing taken away from this meeting in London was that “we want to make NATO stronger for the future to be able to protect almost one billion people from the instability beyond our border.”
The NATO members are “under the same umbrella” E. Sylvester Vizi said, adding: “If we do not support each other, if we do not learn from each other, we will lose.” Recalling NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg’s words, as the world changes, NATO also has to continue to change.
In his speech, the president also drew the audience’s attention to the importance of scientific knowledge as it „has been and will be the engine of the modern world.” He also warned: “In this Century more than ever before, the world will be shaped by technology. We have to be prepared to familiarize ourselves with the most advanced technologies.”
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In his lecture, István Szabó guided the audience through the Hungarian Defense Force’s development program. He first described the environment that surrounds Hungary with the word “unpredictable,” citing a number of threats, including new military threats, unstable states, extremely rapid changes, terrorism, hybrid and cyber threats, and changes of environment.
State secretary István Szabó
He then stated that the Hungarian military has both Southern and Eastern challenges. The former involves solidarity with the Baltic countries and the double attitude towards Russia (deterrence and dialogue). The latter involves NATO missions and migration. “Instability shouldn’t be imported, but stability should be exported instead,” he said. He also revealed that currently, around 1,000 Hungarian peace-keepers are on foreign missions, a high number in his view.
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Szabó then presented the cornerstones of the Hungarian military development program called ‘Zrínyi 2026.’ The most important feature is increasing the number of personnel. To solve this, a military career model that includes salary increases, housing support and health damage support, is being implemented. Public relations, military education and the improvement of the voluntary system are also of high importance. And secondly, of course, the development of the equipment, the ground force and air force capabilities. Szabó revealed that Hungarian military spending will easily reach the required 2% of the GDP by 2026.
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In addition, he also presented a thrilling promotion video of the Hungarian military.
After the presentation, Vizi thanked István Szabó for his excellent presentation. Vizi recalled the bon mot of Hungarian Nobel prize winner physicist Dénes Gábor who said that “the future cannot be predicted, the future can only be invented.”
In the featured photo illustration: E. Sylvester Vizi