Kristof Szalay-Bobrovniczky - Photo: MTI

Defence minister: Slovakia one of Hungary’s closest allies

Slovakia is one of Hungary's closest allies, and the two countries are dedicated to maintaining close and regular dialogue, Kristof Szalay-Bobrovniczky, Hungary's defence minister, said after meeting his counterpart, Jaroslav Nad, in Budapest.

“Slovakia and Hungary are neighbouring countries and our history, culture and the current situation form many ties between us,” Szalay-Bobrovniczky said. “Also, we are both dedicated NATO allies,” he added.

He said he was in agreement with Nad that strengthening NATO’s eastern flank was important. The meeting also covered the discussion of Hungary’s participation, together with the Czech Republic and Poland, of air policing tasks in the skies above Slovakia until Slovakia’s own fighter jets arrive, he added.

They also noted that the Headquarters Multinational Division-Centre (HQ MND-C) in Szekesfehervar, in western Hungary, will soon be headed by a Slovak general.

The minister said he had also told Nad about Hungary’s military recruitment push. Members of the young generation are also being appointed officers and gaining experience in international and NATO missions, he said. This strengthens the Hungarian military and allows the country to engage in “more youthful and dynamic” cooperation with its allies, he added.

Szalay-Bobrovniczky said he and Nad had also discussed the war in Ukraine. He emphasised that Hungary’s position had not changed since the outbreak of the war.

“We are on the side of peace and we’d like there to be peace talks as soon as possible,” he said. Hungary condemns Russia’s aggression against independent Ukraine and stands by Ukraine’s territorial integrity and independence, the minister said.

The talks also touched on the situation in the Western Balkans, Szalay-Bobrovniczky said, adding he had thanked Nad for the police officers Slovakia had assigned to Hungary’s southern border.

Nad welcomed that cooperation between the two countries was problem-free in all areas including defence.

He said there were issues on which Slovakia and Hungary were in full agreement and issues on which they were not, adding that those were the issues they needed to reach an agreement on.

He praised the cooperation in the work of the Szekesfehervar-based HQ MND-C.

Concerning the war in Ukraine, he said the two countries mutually respected each other’s position and were seeking pragmatic solutions that could help Ukraine defend itself.

Meanwhile, he said the agreement on the air policing mission was expected to be signed at the meeting of the Visegrad Group’s defence ministers in the spring.

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