Mass migration, terrorism, hybrid threats, fake news and growing nationalism in Ukraine were in focus at the 21st International Parliamentary NATO Conference organised in Budapest on Thursday.
In his opening address, deputy parliamentary speaker Csaba Hende said international relations were characterised by uncertainty and unpredictability. In recent years, the threats facing the Euro-Atlantic region have grown more serious and complex, he told the conference. Threats like hybrid warfare, mass migration and its links to terrorism require new, joint solutions from NATO member states, Hende said.
He said cyberspace has become one of the most critical “battlefields” in the world today on which attacks can range from the disruption of the decision-making mechanisms of countries to serious attacks on a country’s critical infrastructure. The former defence minister said that 50,000 people fall victim to cyber crime every hour. Citing estimates, he said 4 billion people are expected to be online and some 76 billion smart devices are expected to be in use by 2020.
He said that online anonymity and today’s modern communications tools allow terrorist organisations to reach and potentially recruit more and more young people.
Hende highlighted the importance of social support for combatting the threat of terrorism and hybrid threats.
Peter Siklosi, the defence ministry’s deputy state secretary for defence policy, said that significant economic, demographic, military and environmental changes in the world have worsened the global security situation over the past years. Social media has at the same time become a platform for information “warfare”, he noted. Siklosi said the number of so-called “fallen regimes” was expected to increase in the future, adding that in the post-Soviet and Balkan region, “frozen” conflicts were expected to re-open and new ones would develop. Hungary is in a difficult situation, he said, noting that neighbouring Ukraine is tackling enduring hybrid warfare.
Europe, as a continent, faces the task of tackling a long-term migrant crisis over the coming years, he added. NATO, including Hungary, must therefore bolster its efforts to prepare for all possible threats, Siklosi said.
Foreign ministry state secretary Levente Magyar said the Hungarian government welcomed NATO’s decision to boost its role in the fight against international terrorism. Hungary is taking part in this fight and will increase the number of Hungarian soldiers stationed in Iraq by 30 percent, to 200, from next year.
The Euro-Atlantic region faces several challenges, including illegal migration and terrorism, Magyar said. Additionally, there are signs that extreme nationalism is growing in Ukraine. Besides increased support for the new Ukrainian education law, which hurts the rights of the ethnic Hungarian minority, nationalist extremists have recently taken action against ethnic minorities, he said. Magyar called for international action, adding that Hungarians are not the only ones affected; Ukraine’s relations with its other neighbours are also problematic as a result.
Rasa Jukneviciene, vice president of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, said that tasks included more effective action against those distributing fake news and propaganda. She said that amid the current security environment, threats posed by Russia in hybrid warfare should be interpreted as “the Kremlin’s warfare against the West”. She made special mention of Russia’s impact on the media and attempts to influence elections in other countries. The Euro-Atlantic community is in hybrid conflict with “Putin’s Russia”, she said, adding that the Russian president was focusing on “weakening Euro-Atlantic security”.
Source and photo: MTI