Mr. Szijjártó stated that Hungary is also continuously increasing its contribution to enable NATO to increase in strength, in the interests of which the country has begun a comprehensive reform of its defence force that will enable the establishment of a military that is competitive at regional level.
Hungary has begun the modernisation of capacities, and the Hungarian Defence Force is procuring 100 new helicopters at a cost of 100 billion forints (EUR 4.8bn).
“Thanks to the Zrinyi 2026 defence and military development programme, Hungary’s defence spending will reach 2 percent of GDP in accordance with previous agreements”, he added.
The Minister told the press that Hungary has decided to increase the 117-strong Hungarian contingent reinforcing NATO’s mission in Afghanistan by a further 12 military personnel, in addition to which it will be extending its period of financial contribution to 2024 instead of the original 2020, meaning it will be contributing half a million dollars each year to developing the capacities and capabilities of the Afghan security forces.
In addition, Hungary has also decided to join NATO’s training mission in Iraq, which is aimed at enabling Iraqi security forces to protect the territories that have been regained from the Islamic State terrorist organisation. “Hungary is contributing 167 military personnel towards the global coalition against ISIS, which it will soon be increasing to 200”, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade added.
“In view of the fact that increasing the defence capabilities of cooperating countries is an important NATO programme, Hungary has contributed to providing training on the diffusion of homemade explosive devices to the Jordanian and Iraqi armies. In future, it will also begin the training of Tunisian forces”, he said.
Mr. Szijjártó stressed that the stability of the Western Balkans is a priority interest, and accordingly 390 Hungarian soldiers will soon begin a tour of duty with NATO forces serving in Kosovo (KFOR), meaning Hungary will have the fourth largest military contingent in the region. In addition, as a sign of solidarity towards the Baltic States, the Hungarian Air Force will be returning to the region in 2019 to participate in the defence of Baltic airspace.
The Minister also told reporters that with the support of Germany Hungary is also working on the establishment of a new NATO Division Command with the participation of Croatia, Slovenia and Slovakia.
Mr. Szijjártó also stressed that Hungary regards it as outrageous that in Ukraine even the highest level of politics is allowing anti-minority and radical nationalist ideas to spread to such an extent.
He declared that in Hungary’s view, if a country would like to achieve European or Euro-Atlantic integration, it cannot afford to allow anti-minority and radical nationalist ideas to spread at such levels.
“Hungary has made it clear that it is unable to support Ukraine’s accession aspirations in any form until the situation does not improve within this field. Hungary will continue to take action in the interests of having the rights of the Hungarian national community respected until Ukraine provides suitable legal guarantees to that affect”, the Hungarian Foreign Minister added.