Hungarian troops near the Ukrainian border - Photo: MTI

Ministerial commissioner: EDF set to boost Hungarian defence industry

The European Defence Fund could give impetus to further developments in Hungary's defence industry, Imre Porkolab, the defence ministry's commissioner for innovation, said on Tuesday.

Speaking at an EDF promotion event in Budapest, Porkolab said the European defence facility has 8 billion euros for the 2021-27 period.

He said Hungary would make use of cooperation opportunities offered through the EDF, adding that “cooperation could fundamentally accelerate efforts to rebuild the Hungarian defence industry by involving new partners in developing capabilities.”

He noted Hungary’s research and innovation knowledge base and called for “an active role in programmes under way and in future ones”. Closer cooperation, he added, was needed with civil organisations, businesses, and research facilities.

The ministry maintains active ties with universities, research institutes and private companies through which “dual use” technologies are developed for defence and general purposes in support of the national economy, he noted.

Concerning the war in Ukraine, Porkolab warned of the possibility of an escalating conflict, saying that “in such times strength is needed to preserve peace”.

The Hungarian government, he said, had “given an ambitious response to new challenges and embarked on intensive upgrade of its army to make it a modern, dominant force in the region.” Reinforcing the Hungarian defence technology and industry is a crucial part of that process, as well as the integration of defence capability developments in the defence research, development, and innovation system of the European Union, he added.

Balazs Hanko, state secretary at the ministry of culture and innovation, said Hungary’s achievements in innovation were “a guarantee” of the country’s protection.

Hanko said Hungary’s universities had made a “turnaround in competitiveness” in recent years, indicated by improved international rankings as well as a 27 percent increase in the number of applicants for the next academic year. He added that the ratio was 34 percent in the areas of engineering, IT and science in particular, adding that those areas were crucial for the defence industry.

Hanko, however, added that “not everybody is happy seeing Hungary’s success”, and insisted that “discriminative and illegitimate decisions are being made in Brussels” impacting Hungarian universities and researchers “when they are from receivable funds in the Erasmus, Horizont and other programmes”. The Hungarian government will, if necessary, pay for the costs of researchers and students participating in international programmes, he said, because “we believe that we’ll make Europe stronger”.

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