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Defense Minister meets Chairman of NATO Military Committee

Minister of Defense Tibor Benkő received Chairman of NATO’s Military Committee Air Chief Marshall Stuart Peach for a courtesy visit last week, with the topics of the meeting including the stability of the Western Balkans and military spending, according to a report by government website kormany.hu.

Stuart Peach (left) with Tibor Benkő (Photo by Ensign Lajos Szabó)

At the meeting, Benkő noted that Hungary has been a significant contributor to peacekeeping missions in the Western Balkans for several decades, within the framework of which some two-thirds of the Hungarian Defense Forces’ operational participation was provided by Hungarian soldiers serving in the region.

"As a leading nation of the Tactical Reserve Battalion, Hungary is among the greatest contributors to KFOR [Kosovo Force]," he emphasized.

"At June’s Global Force Generation Conference, Hungary confirmed its continued contribution, as well as its intention to take over the post of KFOR commander for a period of one year, beginning in November 2021," Benkő said.

Other topics at the meeting included the commitments adopted at the summit of NATO heads of state and government in Wales, and Hungary’s National Defense and Armed Forces Development Program.

"Hungary’s defense spending will reach 2% of its gross national product by 2024," the minister highlighted, adding that the current military development program is the most ambitious and comprehensive one in recent decades, based on increased defense spending.

Benkő also underlined that the establishment of the Multinational Division Command for Central Europe is proceeding according to plan.

"The Command began as a grassroots initiative on the part of Hungary and Croatia, with which the parties wished to reinforce NATO’s command and leadership capacity within the Central and Eastern European region," he highlighted.

In peacetime it will be an engine for capacity development, interoperability, training and exercises, and crisis management, while its main task will be to contribute to the defense of the Alliance, he explained.

"The role of special operations in the handling of non-traditional security threats has gained importance in the recent period, and accordingly the establishment of a Special Operations Component Command has begun with the support of our regional partners (Slovenia, Slovakia, Croatia and Austria), based on the decades of cooperation characteristic within the region," Benkő added.

The minister also argued that NATO has reacted successfully to the global coronavirus pandemic, saying that "New challenges always result in the development of new security protocols, and accordingly we welcomed the fact that the COVID operational plan adopted at the meeting of defense ministers in June is enabling us to also provide a collective response to new waves of the virus, if necessary."