Photo: MTI

Hungary resolutely supports measures to boost the European Union’s security and defence capabilities, Defence Minister Tibor Benkő said on Tuesday.

However, doing so should not undermine NATO but rather strengthen the alliance, he said after meeting his EU counterparts.

Benkő emphasised the importance of cooperation between the two organisations in areas such as combatting illegal migration, building security capacities in the Western Balkans, and fighting terrorism and hybrid threats.

The minister argued that far more attention should be paid to threats emanating from the south and to security in the Western Balkans.

Managing mass migration and preventing terrorist threats are top Hungarian priorities, he noted.

He said several ministers expressed concern about EU missions, especially its training mission in Mali.

Hungary will increase its troop numbers in Mali from 7 to 21 this year, he added.

Regarding the EU’s Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) on defence in which 25 of the 28 national armed forces pursue structural integration, he said a number of new projects were adopted at the meeting focusing on training in areas such as cyber, diving, tactical, health, and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRND), while others concern enhancing cooperation and developing marine, aerospace and space capabilities.

Hungary’s involvement in new projects includes establishing a medical training center for Special Operations Forces and participating in the development of a chemical, nuclear and biological detection system.

Responding to a journalist’s question, Benkő said no agreement had been made on the terms and conditions for third countries to participate in PESCO projects, and no such agreement was likely in the near future either.

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