Speaking in the program of TV channel M1 on Monday evening, Minister of Defence Dr. István Simicskó pointed out that the Hungarian Defence Forces must be strengthened not only because of NATO but also for our own self-esteem and the security of Hungarian citizens.

He said that the backlog must be made up too, because, apart from the procurement of Gripens, the capabilities of the Hungarian Defence Forces have continuously been deteriorating in the last 20-25 years.

The minister also talked about the national defence and armed forces development program Zrínyi 2026, which is the most comprehensive one since the 1989 change of regime. As part of it, the ministry intends to reorganize the system of reservists on a territorial basis, equip the Hungarian Defence Forces with modern technology and also rebuild the Hungarian defence industry.

The minister of defence stated that the goal is to achieve a “minimum self-defence capability” in this field, thus, for example, in the production of small arms. This would result in creating jobs as well, he added.

In the case of certain arms of service, they ministry has “set its sights” on state-of-the-art technology, for instance, the establishment of a system of cyber defence. The minister of defence noted that the government had earlier undertaken to increase the defence budget by 0.1 per cent of the GDP every year, so that it can reach the 2 per cent NATO guideline until 2026. At the same time, in answer to a question, he said that the Hungarian economy is strengthening, so there are plans to accelerate the rise in defence spending, provided the government makes a decision about it.   

István Simicskó also talked about last week’s Meeting of NATO Ministers of Defence in Brussels and the Munich Security Conference, pointing out that for the last one and a half or two years, the government of Hungary has continuously been warning about serious threats from the southern direction, and about the co-occurrence of migration and terrorism.

According to the minister, the United States too is already perceiving this threat.

Judging from the recent statements made by the new US president and last week’s forums, the United States wants to root out Islamic radicalism and terrorism, István Simicskó added.

(Cabinet Office of the Prime Minister/MTI)