The Hungarian government is planning to expand its number of military reservists to 20,000 by 2026, the defence minister said in Nyíregyháza, in eastern Hungary, on Thursday.
The size and capabilities of Hungary’s military have diminished considerably since the 1989-1990 change in political system, István Simicskó told a military science conference.
But this is to be remedied by the Zrínyi 2026 scheme, the most complex wave of military development of the past 25 years, Simicskó said.
The defence side of the project aims to restructure the reservist system, he said, adding that the Hungarian military would hire some 1,000 new reservists between now and the 2018 general election.
The minister said that Hungary had just 17 reservists in 2010, which he blamed on the 2004 law abolishing mandatory military service.
Right now Hungary’s defence force has over 5,000 reservists, but this force lacks “real capabilities”, Simicskó said.
At another event earlier in the day, Simicskó addressed 350 Hungarian soldiers who returned from a six-month mission in Kosovo. He noted that Hungarian soldiers participate in international peace missions in fourteen countries, on three continents.
At the ceremony, Simicskó received equipment and Land Rovers that Hungary has purchased from the British army.
In a speech at the ceremony delivered in both English and Hungarian, UK ambassador Iain Lindsay thanked the Hungarian soldiers for their tireless work and their active contribution to the security of Europe. He said the KFOR mission was one example among many in which the UK regarded Hungary as an important ally.
“We are committed to NATO, which is the cornerstone of European security,” the ambassador said.
He noted that 2017 had been a very active year in defence cooperation between the two countries. British soldiers participated in exercises in Hungary, and for the first time in ten years, a Hungarian student graduated from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, where Hungarian students have taken courses over the last two years.
The ambassador said Hungary had enquired about the system of British reserves, which has a strong tradition in the British army.
Featured image: MTI