As part of her tour of the Visegrád Group countries (Czechia, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) and Bulgaria, German Defense Minister and President of the majority coalition party CDU Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer met on Thursday in Budapest Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and her Hungarian counterpart Tibor Benkő, national news agency MTI reported.
The meeting was part of Germany’s background diplomacy prior to today’s European Union Summit, neither Chancellor Merkel’s emissary nor Orbán’s press office gave any pertinent details of the discussions, but AKK (as she is nicknamed in Germany) and Benkő did hold a short press conference after their meeting.
When asked about her meeting with Orbán and the issue of the Hungarian ruling Fidesz party’s currently suspended membership in the European People’s Party, AKK said they had an “open and unequivocal discussion”, but any decisions regarding Fidesz’s membership will be decided within the EPP this September.
Both Benkő and AKK praised the good military cooperation between their respective countries. She highlighted that Germany is a significant contributor to the modernization of the Hungarian Armed Forces’ equipment. Hungary is purchasing tanks, helicopters, artillery pieces and air defense control systems from Germany. AKK also said that during the coronavirus pandemic the cooperation between the two countries’ military within the European Union’s security and defense policy integration, the Permanent Structured Cooperation (Pesco), established in 2018.
Both ministers also referred to the joint participation of the two countries in NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF). The VJTF is made up of land, air, maritime and special forces, and is part of the Alliance’s 40,000-strong NATO Response Force. European NATO member states take the lead in the force in an annual rotation, and this January Poland took over the prime role from Germany and currently the core of the VJTF is Poland’s 21st Rifles Brigade.
Title image: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer on the terrace of the Prime Minister’s office overlookiing Budapest on July 16, 2020. (MTI/Vivien Cher Benko)