The government has approved the Hungarian military’s continued presence in the Baltic region, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said after visiting the Hungarian military contingent in Voru, in southeastern Estonia, on Friday.
Tallinn has asked Hungary to use the Amari air base as the base of its NATO Baltic airspace protection mission, Szijjarto told MTI over the phone.
The 124-strong Hungarian contingent stationed in Estonia as part of NATO’s enhanced presence in the region is the first Hungarian Armed Forces unit to serve in the Baltic state, he said.
The Visegrad Group countries agreed last year to rotate their countries’ military presence in the region every three months, each supplying a company of troops, the minister said. The Hungarian contingent’s mission will consist of carrying out military exercises and training duties, he added.
The current unit will complete its mission at the end of September, but Hungary will resume airspace protection duties in the region in 2019 with four Gripen fighter jets and a 110-strong contingent, Szijjarto said.
Defense is the area going through the most dramatic changes in the world today, he said, adding that Europe’s security situation “has never been as bad as it is now”. The continent is facing the biggest terrorist threat of all time, he insisted.
Under these circumstances, Hungary’s NATO membership is even more valuable, Szijjarto said, adding that through its troops, Hungary was proving itself a reliable member of the alliance.
In his meeting with the troops, Szijjarto expressed the government’s appreciation for their service.
“We are proud that our number of soldiers serving abroad in NATO and UN missions has reached 1,000 and we are particularly proud of those serving in Estonia,”
The minister is later scheduled to meet leaders of London-based Money transfer company TransferWise in Tallinn. Regarding his upcoming talks, Szijjarto said national economic competitiveness would depend on how quickly and effectively countries can link productivity with digitalisation.
Szijjarto underlined the importance of economic cooperation with Estonia, noting that it is among the world’s five best prepared countries for the new digital economy. He said the Budapest office of TransferWise will expand its staff to from 40 to 200.
Szijjarto is also scheduled to meet Estonia’s defence minister, the Estonian parliament’s first deputy speaker as well as the head of its foreign affairs committee.
Source and photo: MTI