Hungarian troops near the Ukrainian border - Photo: MTI

Defence Minister: Hungary military ‘on verge of historic opportunity’

The Armed Forces of Hungary is on the verge of a "historic opportunity" to become a reformed, capable and dedicated military force, Defence Minister Kristof Szalay-Bobrovniczky said on Friday, addressing a National Defence Day celebration.

Hungary’s military is now presented with a big, perhaps final chance, the minister told the event at the Balna Centre on the Pest side of the River Danube, arguing that though the development of the country’s army had been talked about and pursued in the past, the war in Ukraine had “created a completely new situation”.

Though the Hungarian army has already had many positive elements, “it hasn’t been what we all want to see it as: a force capable of fully guaranteeing the security of the Hungarian people within NATO”, Szalay-Bobrovniczky said. “But now, it has all come together,” he added.

Szalay-Bobrovniczky said President Katalin Novak, as the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, Prime Minister Viktor Orban and he himself were all committed to Hungary’s military reform. Despite the difficult economic situation caused by the war, Hungary has all the resources needed for the necessary upgrades, he said, noting that next year’s budget again allocates 2 percent of GDP towards defence.

He noted that the defence ministry had launched a recruitment campaign earlier this year to raise awareness of how defence was a shared national issue.

As regards the tasks before the Armed Forces, Szalay-Bobrovniczky noted the importance of procuring new NATO-compatible equipment. Also, a profound change in organisational culture is needed so that the army is a combat ready force, he said, emphasising the importance of the military’s rejuvenation. The appointment of Gabor Borondi as the chief of staff ensures that this change in organisational culture “is spearheaded by the best people possible”, he added.

National Defence Day marks the anniversary of May 21, 1849, when the independent Hungarian army succeeded in recapturing the castle of Buda after a three-week siege.

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