Budapest, September 29 (MTI) – Hungary is committed to its NATO missions and plays an important role in international tasks, including two ongoing exercises in Hungary, Brave Warrior 2016 and Black Swan, Chairman of NATO’s military committee Petr Pavel told MTI in an interview on Thursday.
Pavel, accompanied by Hungarian Defence Minister István Simicskó and Hungary’s Chief of Staff Tibor Benkő, visited the two ongoing exercises in Varpalota, western Hungary.
With these exercises Hungary plays a vital role in training armed forces and in deterrence measures aimed at strengthening security, Pavel said, noting that Hungary takes part in air space control and hosts the NATO Forces Integration Unit (NFIU). One of the aims of the NATO command in Székesfehérvár, central Hungary, has been to show the power of deterrence against aggression from Russia over the past few years, he added.
Pavel said NATO treats the migration crisis as an issue concerning security and is monitoring developments in this context. NATO has expressed its readiness to help the European Union. It has contributed to the border security work of EU Frontex for six months, with the handling of masses arriving from Turkey and the Greek islands, he said. Pavel also noted however that stopping migrants and protecting the borders with military measures is only a symptomatic treatment, but “one must go deeper” to eliminate migration routes. A lack of economic development and welfare services and the ensuing instability in the countries of origin is difficult to treat with military means, he told MTI.
NATO can help by supplementing the European Commission’s development programme and by training and developing local military, police and coastguard forces, he added. NATO will seek closer cooperation with the EU in these areas in the upcoming period, Pavel said.
Pavel met Simicskó in his office on Thursday and they discussed ways that a NATO-EU cooperation could be made more effective in the interest of improving Europe’s security. Pavel said talks with Simicskó and Benkő had been fruitful and there were no differences of standpoint between them on key issues. Simicskó assured Pavel that Hungary would continue to meet its NATO obligations, despite growing domestic security challenges that affect the armed forces, too.
Pavel said it was a positive development that Hungary and many other NATO states had halted a decline in defence spending and are now increasing funding in this area. He added that raising spending to 2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), however, was not enough in itself. “Real capabilities must be built” in harmony with the goals of NATO’s defence planning system, he said.
Simicskó told a press conference in Várpalota that military efforts for peace were in response to today’s challenges and that the two ongoing exercises in Hungary were examples of the efficiency of joint work, which is needed also to respond to spreading terrorism.
On Friday Pavel will pay a courtesy visit to Hungary’s President János Áder and Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó, and he will give a lecture at the National Civil Service University in the evening.