“The decision to increase Hungary’s contribution to the fight against the Islamic State terrorist organisation is an important decision with regard to the security of both the Hungarian people and Europe”, the Ministry of Defence’s Parliamentary State Secretary said.

Tamás Vargha recalled: On Tuesday, Parliament voted with a two thirds majority to authorise the extension of the Hungarian Defence Force’s activities in Iraq until 2019, and to increase the maximum size of the Hungarian contingent from 150 to 200. The Hungarian Government has consistently represented the standpoint that mass illegal immigration and the terrorism that arrives with it must be kept outside the borders of Hungary and Europe. Order must be restored in the countries that are the source of immigration, and this is another reason why it is important for the international coalition of some sixty countries to increase its role in the region.

The State Secretary also told reporters that next year’s defence budget of 428 billion forints (EUR 1.4bn) already exceeds 1 percent of GDP, and accordingly the 2018 budget is a major step towards achieving the 2 percent of GDP level required by NATO in around 2024.

Mr. Vargha highlighted the fact that next year’s budget includes some 100 billion forints for the development of the Hungarian Defence Force. One of the Governments’ important principles is that people, soldiers, come first: military service must be recognised. In this spirit, the pay increases for military personnel will continue next year, and the 5 percent increase will mean that soldiers will be receiving a total average wage hike of 50 percent between 2016 and 2019. As examples, he said that rank and file military personnel will be receiving 215 thousand forints gross next year, while an entry level soldier with a higher education degree will be receiving a gross monthly salary of 363 thousand forints.

Furthermore, attention is also being focused on improving working conditions. The modernisation of the personal equipment of military personnel will also continue next year, in addition to which work will begin on the development of the barracks at Hódmezővásárhely, Szolnok and Tata.

The redesigning of the voluntary reserve system will also continue, the goal being to set up voluntary reserve units in 197 districts. In addition, next year’s budget also includes the Zrinyi 2026 Hungarian Defence Force and Military Development Programme, explained the State Secretary, according to whom the Programme will enable the Hungarian Defence Force to become one of the determining powers of the region within ten to twelve years, thus reinforcing NATO and European security.

(Ministry of Defence/MTI)