Ferenc Korom received his appointment as Chief of Staff of the Hungarian Defence Forces from President of the Republic János Áder on Wednesday in the Parliament Building, in Budapest.

According to the decision of the President of the Republic, the mandate of the Chief of Staff of the Hungarian Defence Forces is for a fixed term, extending from 16 May 2018 to 15 May 2023.

In his ceremonial address departing Minister of Defence István Simicskó described both former Chief of Staff Tibor Benkő and Ferenc Korom as excellent soldiers.

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The Defence Minister of the acting government said that Mr Korom is a strict and resolute man, a disciplined soldier, but has also shown humanity in all the military positions he has held so far.

Mr Simicskó thanked former Chief of Staff Tibor Benkő for his cooperation in the past. He highlighted that Mr Benkő has served in the military for 43 years. For more than 20 years they have mutually helped and supported one another in different positions, and have sought to serve the Hungarian Defence Forces. He and Mr Benkő share a similar vision of the defence forces and envisage a similar future, he said.

The departing minister wished Mr Benkő all the very best with his new appointment as minister of defence.

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Mr Simicskó pointed out that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán asked him to join his government as defence minister in a crisis situation in 2015. Since then some 18,000 soldiers have participated in the new task: the construction and protection of the border fence. Additionally they have compiled a new defence forces and military capability development programme with which they have started the reinforcement of the Hungarian Defence Forces.

He highlighted that Hungary’s security depends on the capabilities of the Hungarian Defence Forces, the country’s allies and the patriotic commitment of Hungarian citizens.

“The defence of the motherland is a national cause”, the minister pointed out, arguing that the nation must be involved and they must reach out to the people, in particular young people. More programmes are required to enhance patriotism in young people, he said, mentioning as an example the introduction of the defence scholarship and the launch of the cadet programme.

He also said that they had started rebuilding a system of voluntary reservists on a territorial basis. As a result, today there are two thousand more reservists than in 2015.

Mr Simicskó pointed out that they are able to provide a safe and predictable career for soldiers.

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They have also established the Defence Sports Association based on the model of its predecessor (MHSZ), have modernised the training system in the military, have started technical developments and the refurbishment of barracks, and have set up a defence technology research centre. They set the Hungarian Defence Forces “on a course of growth that is historic in its scale”, he said in evaluation.

At the end of his speech Mr Simicskó said that he had completed his service with all his heart and soul, and with humility. He also thanked the Hungarian Defence Forces, soldiers, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and President of the Republic János Áder. He said he is leaving with his “head held high”; he has not only completed his service in the past three years, but has also made a genuine contribution. He wished everyone all the very best with their work in the future.

The ceremony was attended, inter alia, by President of the Republic János Áder, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, the leadership of the Ministry of Defence, Lajos Kósa, prospective president of Parliament’s Defence and Policing Committee, the leaders of the intelligence services and former chiefs of staff.

Ferenc Korom, who was the commander of the Hungarian Defence Forces Joint Forces Command from January, stressed in his pre-appointment hearing before Parliament’s Defence and Policing Committee on Monday that the representation of national interests must guide every effort, and a national army must be built and developed. He pointed out that he is thoroughly acquainted with the present state of the Defence Forces, including its abilities and its limitations, and is aware of Hungary’s security situation as well as of the international and local challenges of the day.