At a conference of the Hungarian Atlantic Council in Budapest on Tuesday 13 October, Minister of Defence Dr. István Simicskó said that for the maintenance of Europe’s security there is a great need for the United States, but the great power also needs Europe. US Ambassador to Budapest Colleen Bell also said that the United States needs a strong Europe, which in turn needs a strong United States.
Speaking at the conference held in the National University of Public Service, Dr. Simicskó pointed out that Europe is currently severely affected by security risks. There is a great and continuing need for the United States in the interest of maintaining the continent’s security but, he noted, the United States also needs Europe.
“Cooperation is the only way to meet the challenges of the present age”, the Minister of Defence emphasised. He stated that for Hungary, the transatlantic relationship “is not merely a rational interest” because “we form a community of shared values with all NATO member countries”, and relations with the United States have outstanding significance.
The Minister of Defence, who recently took office, said that there would be some minor corrections in issues of national defence, but for Euro-Atlantic relations this will mean that they must be further strengthened. Dr. Simicskó added that the challenges must be reassessed in light of changes in the geostrategic situation. The war in Ukraine and the activity of Islamic State are eroding Hungarians’ sense of security. He drew attention to the fact that the current mass migration provides certain terror organizations with “a good opportunity” to send their members to Europe.
According to Dr. Simicskó, “we are living in a difficult period”, so the strengthening of the Euro-Atlantic concept is especially important. For this reason also, Hungary is committed to continuing its excellent cooperation at the transatlantic level and with the United States.
In her “Remarks on Transatlantic Thought”, Ambassador Colleen Bell emphasised that “America needs a strong Europe, and Europe needs a strong America”. As she said, “the United States is deeply invested in the health and success of Europe”.
Speaking about the current challenges to NATO, the diplomat mentioned “Russian aggression in Ukraine” and the ensuing crisis in that country. In connection with this, she said that the Readiness Action Plan is a priority for NATO, as it includes new “assurance measures which have brought about an enhanced and continuous military presence of NATO forces in the eastern part of the Alliance.”
Colleen Bell thanked all member states involved in the Readiness Action Plan, including Hungary. In her remarks, the US ambassador said that “Hungary’s membership in NATO is particularly fitting, as a key ally.”
She pointed out that Hungary – which in 2014 celebrated the 15th anniversary of its accession to NATO – has assumed important roles in multinational exercises and tasks in recent years. By way of example, she mentioned the currently ongoing Brave Warrior military exercise, which involves more than 500 US troops working together with others, and the Hungarian Defence Forces’ role in the Baltic Air Policing Mission until the end of this year.
Speaking about the current challenges in security policy, the Ambassador drew attention to the “menace of terrorism from the Middle East and North Africa” and the situation of these regions. As she noted, NATO must “address the situation in Syria and Afghanistan” as well.
President of the Hungarian Atlantic Council (HAC) Szilveszter E. Vizi gave a presentation, in which he reminded his audience that “around 85 per cent of Hungarian people voted for NATO” in the referendum held on Hungary’s accession to the organisation. “Since then, the Atlantic concept, Atlanticism has been enduringly popular among the Hungarian people”, the President of the HAC added, pointing out that the Atlantic concept has enjoyed the continuing support of all Hungarian governments up to now.
The President of the HAC told his audience that some days ago NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg had identified the security of North Africa, mass migration and cyber security among current challenges. According to Mr. Vizi, these challenges require common responses.
Source: Ministry of Defence