Hungary to boost role in Afghanistan, Kosovo, says foreign minister
Hungary will take a larger role in NATO missions in Afghanistan and Kosovo, in line with its pledge made to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, the foreign minister told Hungarian journalists in Brussels on Wednesday.
Hungary will reassign most of its troops who are soon demobilising from the United Nations Cyprus peacekeeping mission to Afghanistan and Kosovo, Péter Szijjártó said after a two-day meeting of NATO foreign ministers.
The country will boost its number of troops by 40 to 106 in Afghanistan and send at least an additional 60 troops to Kosovo by next summer, he said. Hungary currently has 398 soldiers stationed in Kosovo, he said.
Szijjártó said Hungary will bid for the command position of the alliance’s KFOR force in Kosovo once Italy’s commandership expires next year.
On another sujbect, the minister said NATO had decided that Bosnia-Herzegovina can submit its first year national programme as part of the membership action plan. Szijjártó welcomed the decision, emphasising the importance of stability in Bosnia-Herzegovina due to its geographic proximity to Hungary.
As regards Macedonia, Szijjártó said it should have become a NATO member long ago. He said he believed that once Macedonia’s name change is finalised, the process of that country’s NATO accession can be completed early next year.
Szijjártó said he had reassured his Macedonian counterpart that Hungary would continue to support Macedonia’s Euro-Atlantic integration.
“History has taught us that if there are unresolved issues in the Western Balkans, it usually leads to big trouble. It would be better to avoid this,” Szijjártó said. And the best way to do that is to speed up the integration process, he added.
Concerning Afghanistan, the minister said NATO’s number one goal in that country was to fight against terrorism. Hungary considers it especially important to combat terrorism in cooperation with the central Asian countries, because they are the ones keeping a number of extremist movements and terrorist groups at bay, he said. Without their efforts, hundreds of thousands or even millions of people would be setting off for Europe, Szijjártó said.
Hungary will in addition maintain its annual contribution of 500,000 dollars to support defence forces in Afghanistan, Szijjártó said, noting the government’s decision to extend the funding until 2024.
Asked about the future of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, Szijjártó said the foreign ministers expressed their gratitude to the United States for not pulling out of the agreement and for giving Russia a 60-day ultimatum to comply with the treaty.
NATO expects Moscow to pursue steps to save the treaty, he said.
Featured image: MTI