Defence is a national cause, the Defence Minister stressed outlining details of the Zrínyi 2026 Defence and Military Development Programme on 27 August, Tuesday, at the Veszprém County Government Office.

In his speech, Tibor Benkő stressed that the goal of the Zrínyi 2026 programme is to create a modern and strong Hungarian defence force which is able to guarantee and serve the security of Hungary and Hungarian citizens both in the present and in the future.

The Minister said “we can observe” what is going on in the world and in Europe, “in our more immediate environment”. “While we have the sensation that we are living in peace and security, this peace and security that surrounds us is very fragile,” he pointed out.

He said in the Western Balkans there is relative peace and security, thanks to the fact that thousands of soldiers are performing duties as part of peacekeeping missions in order to prevent further conflicts. According to the Minister, it is extremely important for Hungary what the future will hold for its southern neighbours, to what extent the situation will remain stable and predictable, and “whether we should dread the outbreak of yet another war at the southern border of the country”.

Regarding relations between Russia and Ukraine, he said in his view the hybrid warfare that Russia deployed against Ukraine started within seconds. “It is possible to annex territories, to destabilise and remove the leadership and governments of countries without delivering air strikes, launching rockets or deploying armoured divisions,” the Minister highlighted.

Mr Benkő also mentioned that in Hungary since 2015 almost twenty thousand soldiers had taken part in the country’s border protection, helping the police, while the number of voluntary territorial defence reservists had risen to above 8,700 by 2019.

The Defence Minister said it was a flawed concept that when Hungary joined NATO, “we allowed our defence forces to diminish”. He pointed out that the Washington Treaty is not only about collective defence, but also lays down that every country is obliged to build and maintain capabilities which guarantee its security.

He added that at present NATO identifies two sources of threat: one originating from Russia, and at this point in time it is clear that there is also a threat from the direction of North Africa, Asia and the Western Balkans, including the threats of terrorism and migration.

In order for Hungary to live in peace and security in the region, the government has decided that the country needs a modern, strong, loyal and committed Hungarian defence force with soldiers and military leaders prepared and trained to the highest standards, he stated.

He said the Zrínyi 2026 Defence and Military Development Programme focuses, on the one hand, on the human being – soldiers. At the same time, in the field of the development of military technology, it is necessary to procure technical equipment – for each branch of the military and for each capability – that is able to rise to the challenges of the twenty-first century.

Mr Benkő observed in the context of the military developments concerning County Veszprém that in Szentkirályszabadja the construction of a twenty-thousand-square-metre modern logistics base will start soon, while in and around Várpalota a cutting-edge simulation system is available which guarantees the preparation of soldiers for their duties.

(Ministry of Defence/MTI)