Budapest, March 17 (MTI) – Hungary’s participation in the international coalition fighting against the Islamic State terrorist organisation would cost 20 billion forints (EUR 66m) during the first 12 months of the mission, the foreign minister said on Tuesday.
Hungary has received the formal request for contribution from the United States, Peter Szijjarto told parliament’s foreign affairs committee.
This includes dispatching a 100-strong unit to perform security tasks at the alliance’s training centre near Erbil in northern Iraq and to have another unit of 50 troops on stand-by in Hungary, he said.
The Hungarian army stands ready and is prepared to carry out these tasks, he said.
The Islamic State has carried out an attack against the western community as a whole, he said, noting that Hungary’s affiliation to this community mandates responsibilities as well.
“We have become involved in the conflict, therefore it is our duty to take part in countering this brutal attack,” Szijjarto said.
The legal framework for the international coalition’s action has been provided by two UN Security Council resolutions adopted in 2014 on anti-terrorism, he said.
If parliament approves Hungary’s military involvement, Hungary will have to conclude a bilateral agreement with Iraq, Szijjarto said.
Giving a timeline for the mission, he said that top Hungarian army commanders would visit the site in northern Iraq this month, then lawmakers could pass a decision by late April and the first troops could be dispatched in late May.
The decision requires a two-thirds majority in parliament.
Attila Mesterhazy, of the opposition Socialists, said his party’s group is expected to make a decision on Friday.
Marton Gyongyosi, of radical nationalist Jobbik, said Hungary’s national interest in this mission is “doubtful”. The party firmly rejects that Hungary should take up a military role “in the war against the IS.”
Bernadett Szel, of green LMP, said the foreign minister’s words “were not reassuring,” adding that participation “will pose a rather serious challenge.”
Zsuzsanna Szelenyi, sitting as an independent for the Egyutt party, said she would consider supporting Hungary’s participation only if the government provides guarantees for the best possible protection of its troops’ safety.
Zsolt Nemeth, the foreign affairs committee’s chairman representing ruling Fidesz, said he expected an approval of the mission, noting that Egyutt and the Hungarian Liberal Party have stated support. A lawmaker for opposition leftist DK has also indicated support, he said.
An approval would currently require 132 votes in favour out of the 198 lawmakers. The allied ruling Fidesz-Christian Democrats currently holds 131 mandates. A by-election for the 199th mandate is set for April 12.