House Speaker: Hungary's NATO membership has no alternative

Thanks to its NATO membership, Hungary is an active shaper of Euro-Atlantic trends, speaker of the house László Kövér said in Budapest Parliament at a conference commemorating 20 years of NATO membership.

"If Hungary wants to guarantee its national security and assert its national interests within the alliance, NATO membership has no alternative," Kövér said in Parliament. He added that the alliance is faced with an increased number of challenges, including the crises on its Southern and Eastern periphery, as well as terrorism and mass migration.

Kövér said NATO membership still enjoys the support of the overwhelming majority of both Hungarian society and legislature. Hungary became a member of the alliance in 1999, after an 1997 referendum in which 85.33 of the voters approved membership.

Kövér also said Hungary is not only enjoying the security benefits provided by membership but is an active participant in several NATO missions around the world.

NATO deputy secretary general Patrick Turner said at the conference that the alliance appreciates Hungary's contribution to its missions in Iraq and Kosovo - in the latter region, the Hungarian contingent is the third largest. He also said Hungary is making efforts in reaching the defense spending levels required by NATO (two percent of GDP).

Defense minister Tibor Benkő said Article 5 on mutual defense of the Washington Treaty - establishing NATO - is the cornerstone of Hungarian military security and the country aims to reach the two percent military spending requirement by 2024.

Title image: speaker of the house László Kövér opens a conference commemorating 20 years of NATO membership in the Budapest Parliament (MTI/Noémi Bruzák)

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