Hungary to Send No Troops, Arms, Money to Potential NATO Mission in Ukraine

Hungary's prime minister and Jens Stoltenberg discussed the Russia-Ukraine war and Hungary-NATO relations. “Hungary is staying out of the war. We will have passed the NATO summit, and there will be more and more difficult moments raising the possibility of going to war. Other proposals will be put on the table. Those debates will have to be held then,”Hungary's prime minister said.

2024. 06. 13. 12:10
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (right) holds talks with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (left) at the PM's office in the Carmelite monastery building in Budapest on June 12, 2024 (Photo: MTI/Prime Minister's Press Office/Zoltan Fischer)
VéleményhírlevélJobban mondva - heti véleményhírlevél - ahol a hét kiemelt témáihoz fűzött személyes gondolatok összeérnek, részletek itt.

"Important meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Budapest," Viktor Orban posted on Facebook, writing about the visit paid by the head of the military alliance in Hungary's capital.

Jens Stoltenberg and Viktor Orban met in the Carmelite Monastery on Wednesday morning. Following the talks, Hungary's prime minister told a joint press conference that he was pleased that the cooperation between NATO and Hungary had strengthened during the secretary general's term in office. 

The secretary general has always been a willing partner in this effort, and I would like to thank him for this work. We have reviewed the relationship between NATO and Hungary today,

Hungary's prime minister said.

He reminded the secretary general that Hungary is a loyal and committed member of NATO. At the moment, 1,300 Hungarian soldiers are participating in NATO operations.

Hungary is one of the small number of NATO member states that is fulfilling all its commitments. Our defense spending exceeds two percent of GDP, and we are reaching and even exceeding the 20 percent capability development target,

PM Orban underlined, adding that Hungary also performs air policing duties in Slovakia and Slovenia. These are the contributions Hungary can make to strengthen NATO, and we will continue to fulfill these responsibilities in the future.

Another important topic of the talks was the Russia-Ukraine war. It is widely known that Hungary’s position differs from that of the majority of NATO member states. On the question of the shortest route from this war situation to peace, Hungary has different answers and others have different answers. 

Hungary acknowledges that the weight and number of opinions that differ from its own, from our own is significant. We had the opportunity to state our position at every forum and we express our gratitude to the secretary general for allowing the government to express its views and present its analysis of the situation in all NATO circles. However, Hungary must admit that it does not have the capacity or the strength to change the opinions of a large number of people who disagree with it. This is why at today's talks, Hungary has made it clear that it does not wish to block decisions in NATO which may be different from the reasonable decisions that would follow from our assessment of the situation, but are decisions shared and urged by the other member states,

Viktor Orban emphasized.

The Hungarian prime minister noted that the focus of today's talks - and he asked the secretary general to make this clear - was that any military action outside NATO territory can only be voluntary, in accordance with NATO rules and our traditions. 

"This was confirmed by the secretary general at today’s meeting, and Hungary has thus received the guarantees we need, especially given that the most important issue that was decided in the European Parliament elections a few days ago was the question of war and peace, and the Hungarian citizens gave the government the mandate to ensure that Hungary will not take part in military actions, in wars outside the territory of Hungary and NATO; that Hungary should follow the shortest route to peace, according to its own discretion," PM Orban underscored.

At the press conference following the talks, Jens Stoltenberg said that it was very good to be back in Budapest and to have the opportunity to meet with the Hungarian prime minister. He thanked Viktor Orban for receiving him. He noted that the meeting takes place a few days before the meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels, and less than a month before an equally important NATO summit in Washington, which will be attended by heads of state and government in July. 

Hungary has always been a highly esteemed NATO ally in the past 25 years. Hungary is leading a multinational NATO unit and hosts an important multidivision headquarters,

Stoltenberg said.

In addition, Hungary also supports stability in the Western Balkans and participates in KFOR’s peace-keeping operations in Kosovo.

Since the beginning of Russia’s brutal war of aggression, Hungary has continuously supported and sheltered Ukrainian refugees, helped rehabilitate wounded soldiers. All this contributes to our common security. I appreciate your statement that you remain a committed and loyal NATO ally.  Today, the Hungarian prime minister and I discussed an important issue that needs to be resolved, we discussed the issue of the Washington summit,

the NATO chief highlighted, adding that on the agenda of the upcoming summit are decisions on several key issues, including deterrence and defense.

NATO's core task is not to wage war, but to prevent war,  as we have done for 75 years by providing credible deterrence and strong collective defense to ensure that there is no room for Moscow or any other potential adversary to miscalculate our capabilities in this role to protect every ally,

Jens Stoltenberg said.

The NATO chief said he expects the allies to agree at the summit that NATO will take the lead in coordinating and facilitating security assistance and training. He expressed the hope that member states would also make a long-term financial commitment to providing military assistance. "This will provide the predictability and reliability Ukraine needs," he added.

Mr Orban has made it clear that Hungary will not participate in these NATO efforts and I accept this position. And I am glad that today, with the prime minister we have agreed on modalities of Hungary's non-participation in NATO support to Ukraine. No Hungarian personnel will take part in these activities and no Hungarian funds will be used to support them,

he stated, stressing that "at the same time the prime minister has assured me that Hungary will not oppose these efforts and will enable other allies to move forward. And he has confirmed that Hungary will continue to meet all its NATO commitments in full."  

In response to a journalist's question at the end of the press conference on guarantees that Hungary will not be forced by NATO in the future to take on a military role in Ukraine, Mr Orban said,

We have two guarantees for this, the first is the Hungarian government and the second is the NATO secretary general, who has quite clearly elaborated that he has no intention to such ends. And, of course the Hungarian government has a quite clear stance  on the Ukraine-Russia war.

There will always be moments in time when many decisions have to be made urgently. One of them has just arrived, Orban said, stressing that 

In these decisions we have now succeeded in articulating the Hungarian position and reaching a fair agreement with the secretary-general.

He noted that "this is not the end of this difficult period. Once the NATO summit is over, there will be other difficult moments, which may raise new potential for war involvement, but those decisions will have to be made at that time", the Hungarian leader stressed.

I can guarantee what I undertook to guarantee in Sunday's election, that when these decisions come up, I will represent decisions that are in Hungary's best interests, and I will try to enforce them. Thankfully, NATO's basic treaties make it clear that participation in any action outside NATO territory is strictly on a voluntary basis. This right has been clearly reiterated and guaranteed by the secretary general, and accordingly Hungary will have room for maneuver in the difficult moments ahead and in those further down the line,

the PM stated.

"In any case, for now, let us rejoice that today's negotiations have ended with an agreement, and that we have managed to deal with the current situation we are in. Hungary has made it clear that it does not want to and cannot change the decision of 31 other member states, and we are pleased that NATO, through the secretary general, has taken note that Hungary intends to make full use of the leeway provided to it in NATO's statutes, and today we have received guarantees that, regarding the war between Ukraine and Russia, we will not have to take part in military action outside Hungary, and that Hungary will neither contribute funds to this joint financial burden, nor send men to this war, nor will it be possible to use Hungary's territory for any involvement in this war. We have received everything that was necessary to settle the issues currently at hand," he explained.

It was a difficult but constructive negotiation with the secretary general, and I would like to take this opportunity here again to thank him for the fair agreement reached at the end,

 Mr Orban concluded.

Jens Stoltenberg confirmed that

There are 32 allies in NATO, and from time to time there are differences of opinion, but we have proved again and again that we can overcome them and find a common way forward.

He also stressed that "it is not a NATO obligation to participate in all NATO missions and operations or activities.

What the prime minister and I have agreed is that Hungary will not block other allies from agreeing on a pledge of  financial support to Ukraine or for NATO to take the lead in coordinating support to Ukraine, while we also accept that they will not participate in these activities,

the defense alliance chief said.


Cover photo: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (right) holds talks with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (left) at the PM's office in the Carmelite monastery building in Budapest on June 12, 2024 (Photo: MTI/Prime Minister's Press Office/Zoltan Fischer)  

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