Hungary wants peace but will prepare for war, says defense minister

Hungary's Defense Minister Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky says the pro-peace stance of the country does not contradict its army modernization

Hungarian Defense Minister Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky and Army Chief of Staff Gábor Böröndi. (Defense Ministry photo)
By Dénes Albert
4 Min Read

Hungary wants peace but is prepared to defend itself, Defense Minister Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky said in a rare in-depth interview with the news portal Index, given together with Army Chief of Staff General Gábor Böröndi.

“Hungary is a member of the EU and NATO. We want peace, but we must also be prepared to defend ourselves. A country can defend itself — even as a member of NATO — if it has an independent, genuinely combat-ready, combat-capable armed force. If it does not have one, NATO is not enough protection,” he said.

“Our intention is to preserve peace from a position of strength, including in military terms. In this way, the security of an independent force and that of NATO complement each other,” he added.

Szalay-Bobrovniczky said urging for a truce in Ukraine is not equal to accepting the presence of Russian troops in Ukraine:

“We are calling for a ceasefire to end the killing and for peace talks to set the terms. The parties are clearly not getting anywhere on the battlefield. There does not seem to be a short-term military solution to this conflict. This is why the Hungarian government is urging an immediate ceasefire and peace talks,” he said.

No NATO troops in Ukraine

The minister said his country remains firm in its position that NATO should not send troops to Ukraine.

“We are at odds with anyone who says that it is inevitable or necessary to send NATO troops, soldiers from NATO member states, to Ukraine. NATO itself has raised the possibility of coordinating arms deliveries and training in the framework of some kind of military mission, with hundreds of billions of euros in advance funding,” Szalay-Bobrovinczky said.

“This proposal is a clear escalation problem for the Hungarian government, and we dispute its intentions and aims, and we cannot support it. Any increased NATO involvement in the conflict raises the threat of World War III and nuclear catastrophe,” he warned.

Hungary is also looking into drone warfare

Asked about Hungary’s recent aircraft purchases (military transport planes, helicopters, and Gripen fighters), Szalay-Bobrovinczky also said that in light of the Ukrainian war, his country is also looking into how to integrate drones into its forces.

“The most important thing is to look at their role in the Russo-Ukrainian war, to process the experience. We are looking at how unmanned devices can be integrated into development plans at the combat, operational, and strategic levels, what capabilities are gained, and how they can be defended against,” he told the Hungarian news outlet.

“It is similar to comparing tanks and armored vehicles; if there is a good tank, there will always be a good armored vehicle, and their development is in competition with each other. We have analyzed the process and have started to build the small, medium, and long-range unmanned capability for defense.”

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