“During the course of the renewal of defence cooperation between the governments of the United States and Hungary, one of the most important criteria was that Hungarian sovereignty cannot be impaired”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó declared at a session of Parliament’s Defence and Law Enforcement Committee on Thursday.

Mr. Szijjártó explained that even the preamble to the proposed text of the treaty referred to Hungarian regulations on several points. “In addition, the text is also in harmony with Hungary’s NATO and EU obligations”, he added.

The current agreement is a modernisation of the 1997 treaty, and includes just a few new elements in comparison to the previous agreement. One new element, for instance, is that the United States plans to realise infrastructure development projects at Hungarian military facilities in Tata, Várpalota, Kecskemét and Pápa.

The Minister highlighted that Hungary had insisted on its constitutional provision regarding foreign troop movements and the stationing of foreign troops, and this caused a slight delay in the negotiations. “All troop movements and major military acts must continue to be preceded by a relative public law act”, he highlighted.

“The issue of the criminal authority was also an important question, with relation to which the stipulations of the existing agreement were preserved. Hungary renounces the primary enforcement of criminal law, except in the case of serious crimes”, Mr Szijjártó emphasised.

The United States recently concluded similar agreements with the three Baltic States, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria. The parliaments of all of the countries involved have ratified those agreements. Three sets of negotiations are currently ongoing, with Slovakia, Norway and Hungary”, he added.

The Minister said that two of the three pillars of bilateral relations between the United States and Hungary, the defence and economic pillars, were already working well. “Political relations had to be totally rebuilt, however. A totally new era began with relation to bilateral relations between the two countries when the Americans elected the current, Republican President”, Mr. Szijjártó said.

The first draft of the so-called Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA) that regulates military cooperation between the two countries was completed in November 2017. Last February, it was decided that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade will be responsible for conducting the negotiations in representation of the Hungarian party. The current draft of the text was established following the recent visit of the U.S: Secretary of State.

The Minister indicated that the text finalised by the negotiating delegations is just a proposal, and if it is signed by the Cabinet, then the ratification of Parliament is required or it to cement force. Prior to that, however, the Cabinet will ask for the opinion of Parliament’s National Defence Committee.

The Committee’s Fidesz Chair, Lajos Kósa, put forward questions concerning to the investments being realised in Hungary by the United States, primarily relating to Kecskemét Airport.

In reply, quoting the relative regulations, Minister of Defence Tibor Benkő stressed: “The buildings will remain under Hungarian ownership”.

In reply to a question, Mr. Szijjártó said negotiations on a mid-range air defence system are currently ongoing. He also stated that Airbus has decided to construct a plant in Eastern Hunger that will enable the manufacturing of helicopter parts. “Two Hungarian locations are still in competition for the project”, he stated.