The dangers of mass migration and the related terrorism, hybrid threats, fake news and increasing Ukrainian nationalism were emphasised by speakers at the 21st International Parliamentary NATO Conference in Budapest.

In his opening speech, Hungarian Deputy Speaker of Parliament for Legislation Csaba Hende highlighted: “The system of international relations is characterised by unpredictability and uncertainty”. “In recent years, the threats to the Euro-Atlantic region have become more serious and more complex, and dangers such as the hybrid threat, mass migration and the terrorism that goes with it require new, common solutions from NATO member states”, he said.

At the event held in Hungary’s Parliament Building entitled “The current challenges faced by the Euro-Atlantic region with the hybrid threat at the focus of attention”, Mr. Hende pointed out: “Cyberspace has become one of the most significant battlegrounds, which provides an opportunity for major attacks from disrupting the decision-making processes of certain countries to attacks against critical infrastructure”. Cybercrime is targeting 50 thousand victims-an-hour, it was stated. “According to certain estimates, 4 billion people will be online by 2020, and the number of related intelligent devices could increase to 76 billion”, he explained.

Mr. Hende also spoke about the fact that terrorist organisations are using internet anonymity and modern communications tools to reach out to and recruit more people than before, and increasing numbers of young people.

According to the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, public backing is important both with regard to combatting terrorist threats and action against hybrid threats. Accordingly, he highlighted as an important task the fact that politicians should place greater emphasis on discussing security issues with voters.

The Ministry of Defence’s Deputy State Secretary for Defence Policy Péter Siklósi stressed: “Significant economic, demographics, military and environmental changes have occurred throughout the world in recent years, and the security situation is becoming worse as a result”.

He also stressed that public media has become an important theatre of war for information warfare.

With relation to this, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Parliamentary State Secretary, Levente Magyar recalled: “The Hungarian Government welcomed NATO’s decision to increase its role in the fight against international terrorism”, adding that Hungary is also taking part in this fight and pointing out that the number of Hungarian military personnel stationed in Iraq will be increased to 200 from 2018, a 30 percent increase on current numbers.

Mr. Magyar also highlighted the fact that the Euro-Atlantic region is facing numerous challenges, including illegal migration and terrorism. Additionally, the Parliamentary State Secretary also pointed to the dangers of increasing radical nationalism in Ukraine, explaining that “in addition to the fact that they are making a stand ‘with increasing confidence’ in support of the Ukrainian Education Act, which violates the rights of the Hungarian minority, nationalist extremists have also taken action against minorities in several instances recently”.

The State Secretary called for international action with regard to the issue, in view of the fact that it is no longer just affecting Hungary, but is also causing disruption to relation’s with Ukraine’s other neighbours. “This is particularly important at a time when NATO is working to reinforce its defensive deterrent along its eastern borders”, he said.

Vice-President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly Rasa Jukneviciene listed more effective action against fake news, hoaxes and the dissemination of propaganda as priority tasks.

With relation to hybrid warfare, she specifically highlighted the threat posed by Russia. In the current security environment, it must be regarded, and it is also regarded as such in Latvia, as “warfare against the West on the part of the Kremlin”, she said.

Ms. Jukneviciene particularly pointed to Russia’s media-related measures and attempts to interfere in the elections of Western countries. According to the Assembly’s Vice-President, the Euro-Atlantic community is currently in a hybrid conflict with “Putin’s Russia”. In her opinion, the Russian President is focusing on “weakening Euro-Atlantic security”.