Brussels, May 19 (MTI) – Montenegro signed an accession treaty at the Brussels meeting of NATO foreign ministers on Thursday, and this will greatly contribute to the stability of the Western Balkans, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said.
The last time the Euro-Atlantic community was subject quite so many threats as now was during the cold war, and the best response would be to enlarge NATO, he told a press conference before the meeting.
Locking up would be a strategic mistake because “the more we are, the stronger we are”, Szijjártó said. NATO must offer the outlook of membership to countries that “share our values and want to be members of our community”.
Macedonia and Georgia both deserve the prospect of membership, Szijjártó said, adding that Hungary would urge member states to adopt an action plan for both countries at the upcoming NATO summit in Warsaw in July. This would be the “anteroom” for accession, Szijjártó said, noting, however, that the majority of NATO members did not yet support Hungary’s position.
Commenting of Russian objections to Montenegro’s integration, Szijjártó said the move would not constitute a confrontation with Russia. Indeed, stability in the Western Balkans would also be in Moscow’s interest. With Montenegro’s accession, the region — which is vulnerable politically and economically and from the point of view of radical Islam — would be “more resistant” to these challenges, he said.
Experts say it will take one to one-and-a-half years to have Montenegro’s accession document ratified by all 28 current NATO member states.
Szijjártó said that NATO foreign ministers will discuss challenges coming from the south.
Hungary will also start the training of Jordanian, Iraqi and Kurdish soldiers in the second half of the year with the aim of dealing with threats from the south, he said.
Hungary is open to discussing the possibility of NATO involvement in the international coalition fighting the Islamic State terrorist organisation, he said.
Currently 126 Hungarian soldiers serve in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq, he noted. This will rise by 150 by the end of 2016, he added.
Szijjártó further noted that the Hungarian government has decided to extend its central defence spending programme beyond 2022 to further contribute to enhancing NATO’s collective defence capabilities. It has made the commitment to increase Hungary’s defence spending by 0.1 percent of GDP each year up to 2026, he said.