“Hungary is committed to its membership of NATO and would like to be one of the shapers of joint security”, Minister of Defence István Simicskó said at a press conference on the second day of the NATO Transformation Seminar in Budapest.

Mr. Simicskó highlighted the need to increase defence spending, and that it is also important to apply the increased budget more effectively. “Accordingly, we would like to spend at least twenty percent of the defence budget on developing the capabilities of the Hungarian Defence Force”, the Minister announced.

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The Minister of Defence recalled that the Hungarian Government had previously decided to increase its defence spending to 2 percent of GDP by 2026, adding that according to one financial plan the target could be achieved as early as 2022.

Mr. Simicskó said that the Zrinyi 2026 National Defence and Military Development Plan corresponds to NATO’s vision and that the new security and military strategy was also being developed in accordance with these principles.

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NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller highlighted the fact that the challenges to which the organisation must react are permanent, and accordingly she feels the Alliance set off in the right direction when the Member States decided to stop the reduction of defence spending and instead decided to increase expenditure once again. The Deputy Secretary General welcomed Hungary’s plans to increase its defence spending and called Hungary an important ally that plays a role in guaranteeing the Alliances security in amongst others Afghanistan, Kosovo and Iraq.

NATO must continuously adapt to changes in the world, the Deputy Secretary General highlighted, adding that the Alliance had realised the greatest reinforcement of its capabilities since the Second Word War. NATO is facing major challenges with relation to North Africa, the Middle East and Russia, she explained. In addition it must also tackle terrorism and new dangers in cyberspace. In reply to a question on the latter, she told the press that having recognised the dangers of cyberspace, the Member States had declared cyberspace a field of operations at the NATO summit in Warsaw, in addition to which a special centre of excellence had been established in Estonia to deal with cyber security challenges.

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On the subject, Mr. Simicskó stressed that Hungary is also handling the dangers associated with cyberspace as a priority, and plans to set up a cyber defence centre within the Military National Security Service.

The Hungarian Defence Minister said that last year he had personally visited NATO’s Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk, which is responsible for strategic, analytic and planning work in the Alliance. “Strategic thinking is vital to enabling us to recognise the challenges of the age and the dangers to our countries and citizens”, he said.

“It is important with regard to both recognising and preventing danger that we must face these challenges not alone, but as a member of the world’s most powerful military alliance”, Mr. Simicskó explained. The Minister of Defence said it was an honour that NATO had decided to hold its Transformation Seminar in Budapest to discuss future security challenges.

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At the press conference, Supreme Commander of NATO’s Allied Command Transformation General Denis Mercier told reporters that a topic of key importance at the two-day meeting was the future of the Alliance and how to suitably position NATO to enable it to meet future challenges. According to the Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, in today’s complex world no nation or organisation can provide a suitable solution independently, and accordingly many partners are required. However, collective thinking must involve not only nations but all “think tanks” that can also provide assistance on unconventional thinking”.