Tibor Benko – Photo: MTI

Benko: Dialogue ‘only way to avoid war’

Dialogue is the only solution to ease tensions and preserve peace between Russia and Ukraine; this is also in Hungary's interest, Defence Minister Tibor Benko told armed forces' website honvedelem.hu.

At the same time, he refuted press reports that 1,000 NATO troops would arrive to Hungary to be stationed here permanently.

In the article published on Sunday, Benko stressed that the parties must settle their differences through diplomacy and negotiations.

“We do not agree with the Cold War rhetoric that is being used, the threats and the show of force, as NATO has been advocating a combination of the two approaches of deterrence and dialogue to Russia for years,” he said.

On the security of Hungary, the minister said that Hungary is not currently under direct threat of war, and thanks to the defence and army development programme started in 2007, the country already has defence capabilities that “do not require the deployment of additional NATO forces in Hungary at present”.

Concerning the presence of NATO Forces in Hungary, Benko said that “contrary to press rumours”, Hungary has not negotiated and does not intend to negotiate on the withdrawal of the Heavy Airlift Wing based at the Papa Air Base (western Hungary) as this is a capability based not on a NATO-, but on a multinational agreement.

It has been proved once again, Benko said, that “peace here in Europe is very vulnerable and fragile”.

“War conflicts can develop almost overnight, and they can only be handled effectively if Hungary has a modern, capable army,” the minister said.

Benko noted that he met with his Ukrainian counterpart at the end of last year to discuss the situation, and UK Minister of Defence Ben Wallace is due to pay a brief visit on Monday, after which he will hold a meeting with the charge d’affaires of the US Embassy in Budapest.


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