Hungary, US sign defence cooperation agreement

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto and US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan signed a defence cooperation agreement on the sidelines of the celebrations of NATO’s 70th anniversary.

Bilateral defence cooperation will be further boosted by the agreement, Szijjarto said after the signing in Washington, DC on Thursday. He noted that alongside NATO’s 70th anniversary, the 20th anniversary of Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic’s accession to the alliance is also being celebrated this year. Hungary is proud to have contributed to the success of the alliance as a reliable partner of both NATO and the US, Szijjarto said.

Hungary has always done its utmost to contribute to the fight against terrorism, Szijjarto said, noting an earlier decision to raise the number of Hungarian troops combatting terror by 200. Fully 130 soldiers will be deployed to Kosovo, raising the headcount of Hungarian troops there to above 500, and 70 to Afghanistan. The number of Hungarians serving in Afghanistan will now exceed 1,200, he noted. Szijjarto said that besides defence and economic cooperation, diplomatic relations have also been revived by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Hungary.

David B. Cornstein, the US Ambassador to Hungary, welcomed the agreement in a statement.

“This agreement will modernize our previous status of forces agreement to reflect new realities in defense, and represents another positive step forward in the journey that the Hungarian people began 30 years ago when they chose to end Communism and embrace liberty. We look forward to an even stronger security relationship with Hungary, and we hope the Hungarian Parliament will complete its approval of the agreement as soon as possible,”

Cornstein said.

Szijjarto decorates former US State Dept official Mitchell

The foreign minister presented a high state award to Wess Mitchell, the US State Department’s former Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, in Washington, DC, on Wednesday.

Mitchell received the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary, Officer’s Cross, in recognition of his outstanding achievements in advancing Hungarian-US relations.
Presenting the award, Peter Szijjarto said that under Mitchell’s direction of his department “a new chapter had opened” in relations between the US and central Europe with Washington considering the region again an ally.

With Mitchell in office, US-Hungarian relations were guided by “two magic words: mutual respect”, Szijjarto said, noting his role in arranging a visit to Budapest by US State Secretary Mike Pompeo for the first time after seven and a half years. The Hungarian foreign minister commended the former US diplomat for his role in developing bilateral political relations which Szijjarto said “had in effect been non-existent” before his term in office.

Szijjarto touched upon the “sensitive” issue of Ukraine, and said that Mitchell had seen that “Hungary cannot consider Ukraine from a purely geo-political aspect; for us, Hungarians, minorities are a very important cause”.

Szijjarto voiced satisfaction that the incumbent US administration “sees the Hungarian government’s policies aimed at preserving Christian values and which have the cause of security in the primary focus”.

Accepting the award, Mitchell said it was a love for freedom that bonded Hungarians and Americans. As an assistant secretary, he said, he had seen an outstanding opportunity in promoting active diplomacy towards central Europe, primarily Hungary.

Source and photo: MTI

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