Budapest, March 22 (MTI) – NATO is Hungary’s security guarantee, István Simicskó, the defence minister, said at the NATO Transformation Seminar in Budapest on Wednesday. Member states must find relevant answers to its challenges together, he added.
Speaking at the opening of the two-day conference, Simicsko said that a strong and effective NATO is the cornerstone of security in Europe. It is therefore a primary interest of Hungary. Security crises can snowball, so its stability is essential, he added.
Europe’s security environment has deteriorated severely in the past few years due to an increased number of destabilised countries in the region, mass migration, terrorist attacks in Europe, the general increase in terrorist activity worldwide and the crisis in Ukraine, he said.
The EU faces difficulties on its southern and eastern borders simultaneously, Simicskó said, adding that “every problem is an opportunity for joint action”, and this can strengthen cooperation and solidarity between the alliance’s member states.
Hungary supports a call by US President Donald Trump and Secretary of Defence James Mattis to expand the alliance’s role in fighting terrorism, Simicskó said. Also, it agrees that Europe should do more towards securing its defence.
Hungary has a ten-year development plan under its belt to prepare the Hungarian military for new challenges, he said. It is also setting up a new research centre for defence this year, he added.
NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller said the alliance would only remain strong if it succeeded in adapting to change. NATO has faced challenges before, she said, but efficient cooperation, innovation and the member states’ commitment to common objectives always guaranteed success. Apart from investing more in security, clever financing is also essential, she added.
Transformation Commander General Denis Mercier stressed the importance of adaptation and cooperation. No country can face every challenge on its own, he said.
Peter Siklosi, the deputy state secretary for defence policy and defence planning, told public television earlier that the conference — this year attended by around 350 participants — tackles current challenges facing the organisation every year. In 2017, the main topics are Russia, the Islamic State terrorist organisation and the fight against terrorism, as well as challenges posed by digital development, Siklosi said.