Defence Minister István Simicskó announced the defence and military forces development programme called Zrínyi 2026.

The Defence Minister said at a background discussion held in Budapest: they would like to place the Hungarian Defence Forces on an upward course by virtue of the availability of additional funds and the implementation of developments.

The defence forces development plans of the Zrínyi 2026 Programme feature the reorganisation of the system of voluntary reservists and the implementation of recruitment campaigns in this context, as well as the launch of the Defence Sports Association and the enhancement of defence education as a priority goal, as part of which they are planning to develop a kind of cadet system, he listed.

Among the plans regarding the development of Hungary’s defence capability, the Minister highlighted, inter alia, the reinforcement of the air force and the procurement of transport aircraft and helicopters. Mr Simicskó said: they will embark on the largest defence forces development enterprise of the past twenty-five years.

He also announced that the new National Security Strategy has been completed, and is now before the Government. Once the Government has discussed it, they would like to present it to a five-party consultation, similar to other issues, he added.

The Minister reiterated: the security environment has changed in recent years, the number of unstable countries is on the rise, and the threat of terrorism has significantly increased. In this context, he referred to the attack which was carried out in Berlin on Monday and the attack against the Russian Ambassador in Ankara as shocking. He further highlighted that Europe must also face the migration crisis. The Defence Minister said that some 13,000 soldiers took and continue to take part in the protection of the country’s borders.

In consequence of the entry into office of the new US President, Mr Simicskó expects, on the one hand, military relations between the two countries – which have been excellent also to date – to further strengthen, and political relations to improve. Additionally, the Defence Minister is also optimistic about the process of „peace seeking” between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. This, as he highlighted, is also key to peace in the Middle-East region and the fight against the terrorist organisation which calls itself Islamic State.

Summing up the events of the year, the Defence Minister made mention – among other things – of the amendment of the Fundamental Law, in the wake of which the Hungarian Defence Forces can also be deployed on home ground if necessary.

Additionally, also this year, there have been pay rises, and defence scholarship programmes have been launched. As a result, the Defence Minister takes the view that the retaining capacity of the Hungarian Defence Forces has improved.

He further reiterated that salaries in the military will increase once again as of January, by 5 per cent on average. Additionally, the defence budget, too, will increase, he added, remarking: he would like the defence budget to GDP to reach 2 per cent already before the end of the ten-year programme.

He also mentioned that, in consequence of the Buda Cash scandal, the money of some 20 thousand defence workers invested in the Defence Health Care Fund has been lost. While the Ministry of Defence has no legal responsibility in this matter, the Ministry will help those who have been financially wronged. Parliament has already approved the legal foundations for a measure to address this issue, and experts are currently working out the details of prospective payments.