For three years, Hungary offers to provide 500,000 dollars annually for the financial sustainment of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), Prime Minister Viktor Orbán reaffirmed at NATO’s 25th Summit in Chicago on Monday, May 21. He also announced that Hungary will join the Baltic Air Policing mission.
Speaking about the financial contribution to Afghanistan, the Hungarian Prime Minister told journalist this is a realistic commitment which amounts to a total of 1.5 million dollars from 2015 to 2017, and takes into account the state of Hungary’s economy. The Hungarian troops have done an excellent job in Afghanistan and earned widespread recognition for Hungary, he stressed, adding that although the Hungarian contingent is not the largest one in Afghanistan, it has and continues to have an important mission in the future too, so our allies are definitely counting on Hungary’s engagement.
Viktor Orbán noted that according to schedule, the ANSF will assume full security responsibility in the country by 2014. “We will pull out our combat forces while leaving our mentoring units there to assist and strengthen the local Afghan forces”, he said, reminding those present of the decision made by NATO according to which Hungary would leave military forces in the Asian country that are able to carry out tasks in the new post-transition period under NATO command. At present 130,000 troops of allied and partner countries are deployed in Afghanistan. The NATO member states reaffirmed their earlier commitment to pull out their combat forces by the end of 2014 and leave a training mission behind, independently of the planned withdrawal of French troops this year. From 2014 on, the mission of the Alliance will be restricted to training and advising.
At the summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Hungarian delegation – which included Foreign Minister János Martonyi and Defence Minister Csaba Hende among others – announced that Hungary is going to participate in the Baltic Air Policing mission. Speaking about this topic, the Prime Minister said Hungary can contribute its air defence forces to the Smart Defence initiative, which has the objective of eliminating duplications. Within this framework, Hungary will deploy combat aircraft to the Baltic region and will participate in guarding the airspace of the Baltic States on a regular basis, as they have no air forces of their own. They can count on Hungary in the spirit of Central European solidarity and cooperation – we will develop an especially close cooperation with Lithuania, he added.
“It was common sense that set the agenda of the summit”, this was how Viktor Orbán assessed the Chicago meeting whose topics of discussion included the building of the NATO Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) capability. With regard to this, the Prime Minister noted that the United States and NATO had agreed to develop a missile shield so it has become a NATO issue, and now the international public finds the establishment of the missile defence system more acceptable.
Turning to the NATO–Russia relations, he said in his opinion there was a need for developing long-term confidence-building cooperation between the Alliance and Russia as a guarantee of stability. The Prime Minister noted that Russia is, was and will be there – and we have to take it into account as it is a major country with significant power. It is in our interest to make sure that that part of the world does not see the West as an enemy, and it is also in our interest to make sure that the West does not see Russia as an enemy, he added.
We are here in Chicago to demonstrate that NATO is alive and to send the world a clear message about it. This is a defensive alliance, and no matter how the world will change, all its members can feel secure, the Hungarian Prime Minister concluded.