Hungary is increasing its involvement in Afghanistan and Kosovo

“Hungary has confirmed its previous promise to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, according to which it will be offering the majority of the capacity that will soon become available when the UN mission to Cyprus expires to NATO towards its involvement in Afghanistan and Kosovo”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto announced in Brussels on Wednesday in a statement to reporters.

At his press conference following the two-day meeting of NATO member state foreign ministers, Szijjarto declared that Hungary is ready to play a further role in improving Kosovan stability. There are currently 398 Hungarian soldiers serving in the Balkan country, and Hungary wishes to increase its military contingent in the region by at least 60 before next summer. The minister highlighted the fact that following the expiry of the mandate of the current Italian command in mid-2019, Hungary will be applying for the position of commander of the international peacekeeping force (KFOR) operating in Kosovo under NATO leadership.

Szijjarto told reporters NATO had decided that Bosnia-Hercegovina may submit its first-year national programme within the framework of the Membership Action Plan. “Amongst others, it is important to Hungary for there to be stability in the country in view of its proximity. This is why it supported calls for the country to be able to submit its national programme, which is the first step towards accession”, he stated.

With relation to Macedonia, he declared that the country should have become a member of NATO a long time ago, because its performance to date gives it the right to be a member. According to the Minister, the actual accession of Macedonia could occur in the first or second month of next year, following a solution to the dispute with Greece concerning the country’s name. He also told the press that within the framework of a bilateral meeting he had assured the Macedonian foreign minister that Hungary will continue to support the country’s euro-Atlantic integration aspirations.

“History has taught us that if there are unsolved issues in the Western Balkans then it usually gives rise to major trouble. It would be better to avoid this”, he said. “The most obvious solution to this is European and euro-Atlantic advances and the acceleration of integration processes”, he underlined.

With relation to the situation in Afghanistan, Szijjarto said that the fight against terrorism must be in first place on NATO’s agenda. “Hungary regards action against terrorism in the countries of Central Asia as being particularly important, in view of the fact that these countries are successfully curbing several extremist movements and terrorist organisations. If they did not do so, hundreds of thousands or millions of people would set out towards Europe”, he said.

“In Hungary’s opinion, the stabilisation of the situation in Afghanistan is important, and accordingly it will be supplementing its current contingent of 106 soldiers with a further 40 military personnel. In addition, it will be maintaining its 500 thousand dollars in annual funding to support the Afghan defence forces, and Hungary has extended this commitment until 2024”, he highlighted.

In reply to a question from the press on the fate of the INF Treaty on short- and intermediate-range nuclear forces, Szijjarto said the NATO foreign ministers had thanked the United States from not exiting the Treaty, but instead giving Moscow a 60-day ultimatum to uphold the agreement. “NATO still expects Moscow to take action to preserve the continued validity of the Treaty”, he underlined.

“Hungary believes that the better the cooperation between East and West the greater our security. The more clouds exist on the sky of East-West cooperation, the greater the security risks we must face. It is in our interests for the United States and Russia to develop a mutually acceptable voice and agreement also with relation to the INF Treaty”, Szijjarto added.

Photo: MTI

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