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November 27., 2018

On 27 November, 2018 the Ministry of Defence and the International Centre for Development and Democratic Transition (ICDT) organized an international conference on the topics of security, defence and armed forces in the 21st century. Global and regional security challenges and possible responses were discussed, with a particular focus on Hungary.

Dr. Tibor Benkő, Minister of Defence highlighted that the capabilities of the Hungarian armed forces are shaped by the rapidly changing security environment. Without security there cannot be peace, and a strong, modern, well-equipped Hungarian Defence Forces is indispensable in guaranteeing the security of the country. Significant steps have been made in this direction, with the gradual increase of the defence budget, the strengthening of the bond between society and the armed forces, and the focus on the younger generations through various programmes and initiatives.

Gen. Petr Pavel, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee between 2015 and 2018, talked about the global security challenges. The resurgence of Russia, terrorism, the strategic competition between the US and China were all explored. He pointed out that the only way to address these challenges is the cooperation within NATO and the European Union by staying united and staying together.

Dr. Csaba Vezekényi, Deputy State Secretary for Defence Policy, underlined that the significance of the military dimension of security is increasingly prominent. Strengthening the Hungarian Defence Forces therefore is of utmost importance, in which the Zrínyi 2026 Defence and Military Development Program plays a crucial part.

Dr. István Gyarmati, President of the ICDT pointed out that providing adequate financial resources only is not enough for a strong armed forces. The changing scene of international politics requires new, brave solutions. To that end, the cooperation between younger and older generations, as well as between civilians and military personnel is necessary. Although Hungary is a small country, by bravery and wit, it can bring about change.

Dr. Col. László Sticz, Branch Chief of the Military Planning Branch of the Chief of Staff said that the modernization of the armed forces has three main reasons. First, to deter conventional threats coming from the East, and second, to provide adequate responses to non-conventional challenges of the South and third, of the cyber space. The Zrínyi 2026 Defence and Military Development Program is going to have tangible effects, the results of which can already been seen in the case of the newly procured equipment.

Major-General Ranald Torquil Ian Munro, CBE, TD, VR, Assistant Chief of Defence Staff shared the lessons learnt of the cadet and reserve programme in the UK with the audience. He pointed out that the programme has a vital role in connecting society and the armed forces, as well as in providing flexibility and a wide array of expertise for the armed forces in times of need. The importance of reservists is increasing nowadays, therefore UK government is committed to the improvement of the program and the increase of the number of reservists.

Dr. István Simicskó, Government Commissioner for coordinating patriotic and national-defence education highlighted that a key element of the Zrínyi 2026 programme is to rebuild the Hungarian reserve system. The objective of patriotic education is to educate the younger generations to take a more active part in building the country, as the defence of Hungary is a national cause based on shared responsibility and joint action. Sport is a great tool in this regard, therefore, more and more sport centres are being built.

Lit. Donát Kirány shared his memories of his path to become a professional soldier of the Hungarian Defence Forces. He talked about those experiences that influenced him since his childhood. He revealed that many factors can contribute to one’s choosing of becoming a professional soldier, but family, friends and the education system are key elements.

István Szabó, State Secretary of Defence pointed to the fact that the suspension of conscription in 2004 had long-term effects, both negative and positive. One of the advantages of conscription was that the connection between society and the armed forces was much stronger than today. According to him, an important objective of the cadet programme is to strengthen this connection. Therefore, military education, as a crucial element of patriotic education, should start at early stages of the education system. The need for such education is increasing, and the government is stepping up its efforts to meet it.

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