Kristof Szalay-Bobrovniczky

Defence Minister: Hungary-Austria defence cooperation robust

Hungary and Austria are "good neighbours" and maintain strong cooperation in defence and other areas, Defence Minister Kristof Szalay-Bobrovniczky said on Monday, after talks with his Austrian counterpart in Budapest.

Szalay-Bobrovniczky and Klaudia Tanner agreed that the stability of the Western Balkans was a proirity.

Hungary has troops serving in KFOR, NATO’s Kosovo mission, as well as in the EUFOR mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Szalay-Bobrovniczky noted.

The ministers also discussed the war in Ukraine. Hungary and Austria are in agreement about not sending weapons to Ukraine, he said. Hungary wants to avoid escalating the situation there, Szalay-Bobrovniczky said. At the same time, both countries are aiding refugees fleeing the war, he said.

Meanwhile, the Hungarian Armed Forces are being “rejuvenated”, the minister told his counterpart.

Young officers experienced in NATO missions who speak foreign languages are “being given important positions, while older officers are offered a dignified and fair way out of the military,” he said.

Tanner praised defence cooperation between the two countries, noting that their forces were cooperating in 7 foreign missions.

Monday’s talks focused on European security and the latest developments in Ukraine. She pointed to the danger of the war spreading to Europe, including “non-traditional threats” such as growing illegal migration.

European countries will have to cooperate closely to solve “the problem of migration” together, she said.

Strengthening the Western Balkans was a key solution to migration, she said. The EU integration of the region is also “inevitable”, she said.

Stability in the Western Balkans and a strengthened European Union are key to a joint defence against illegal migration, she said, thanking Hungary for its role in maintaining the region’s security.

Tanner said they had discussed EU-NATO cooperation, and agreed that the EU should be “more decisive” in voicing its views, and that the NATO’s impending enlargement warrants close cooperation.

Austria and Hungary need a “credible and robust” defence and security policy to avoid opening up the possibility of new threats and conflicts, she said.

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