The Foreign Minister recently spoke about the fact that the Hungarian army is in a good condition to guarantee the security of the country, which many have doubts about.
Now that, according to the NATO Secretary-General, the Russian threat is a part of the new normal in Europe that we need to get used to, Azonnali looked at the situation of the Hungarian army.
After his election in 2010, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán stated that Hungary needed an army that was ready at any time to defend the country against attacks by external forces. As he said, this required major changes, and the whole system of national defence had to be rebuilt.
Orbán also stated that this is not a competition, we do not have to catch up or copy other countries, but we need to organise and set up a force that adapts to the size and needs of our own country.
He also mentioned that he wanted to strengthen the Hungarian military industry, we quote: “As the Germans say: a German soldier is a German product to their very last button! I would like to see this in Hungary as well.” Indicating that it would also be necessary to manufacture and modernise our Hungarian military equipment.
However, developing a force is not only very difficult but also terribly expensive. The big dilemma for European force development was whether the countries dare to depend on each other for their security.
NATO would be a perfect umbrella organisation for nations to share their capabilities practically and economically, and not all would have to maintain a complete army for all the tasks.
At the time of Hungary joining NATO, for example, there was talk of Hungary specialising in the installation of pontoon bridges and/or the training and maintenance of chemical protection units.
But such one-sided developments require enormous trust, which, as we have seen since, no one has.
In Viktor Orbán, this trust did not exist in 2010 either, although at the time, there was not such an atmosphere of war in Europe as in recent years.
Orbán has repeatedly referred to the Washington Treaty, which was the base of the establishment of NATO, saying that everyone is primarily concerned with their defence and thus contributes to the common defence.
Although an agreement on mutual assistance is a very important part of NATO, it would still be a mistake to count solely on the expectation that others will protect us, Orbán has repeatedly stated.
And after the Russians invaded Crimea in the spring of 2014 and the conflict in eastern Ukraine began to unfold, almost all of Europe began to develop forces and arm itself.
Péter Szijjártó recently talked about the fact that he believes that the Hungarian army is in a good condition to guarantee the security of the country, which many people have received with scepticism.
If the Ukrainian army, equipped with 205,000 American Javelin anti-tank missiles and Turkish Bayraktar drones, was reluctant to clash with the Russian army of 100-150,000 soldiers deployed near their borders, what could the Hungarian army have become in the last few years that Péter Szijjártó is so confident?
Although there are no official sources for this, according to various pieces of information, we have a few thousand soldiers equipped with Carl Gustaf M4 anti-tank guns, 20 light helicopters, 14 Gripen, 2-2 small and large passenger carriers, 12 tanks, and 10 combat vehicles.
That is why Péter Szijjártó says that he can guarantee our safety. Although we are better off than in 2010, this still does not seem to be enough on its own.
The numbers in the army are barely increasing, but it is still far from the numbers previously set in the visions: Minister of Defence Tibor Benkő said in one of his most recent interviews, on January 20, 2022, that the Ministry aims to have at least 30,000 active soldiers in 2028. So, the number of active soldiers should be thousands fewer than that nowadays.