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26 Jul, 2022 14:56

Hungary sets up defense body amid Ukrainian conflict

Prime Minister Viktor Orban will head the Defense Council which has special decision-making powers
Hungary sets up defense body amid Ukrainian conflict

The Hungarian government has set up a new Defense Council led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban which has been given special decision-making authority, the PM’s press secretary Bertalan Havasi announced on Tuesday.

As quoted by Hungarian news agency MTI, Havasi explained that the council was created in response to the military conflict in Ukraine and the ensuing economic crisis in Europe. He also noted that increased pressure from migration had made it necessary to pay special attention to protecting Hungary’s security and sovereignty in the coming years.

The council will deal with proposals and reports regarding national security, public safety, border controls, national defense, migrant cases, natural disaster protections, counter-terrorism efforts and defense developments.

"The Defense Council is a forum for government political decision-making with special powers, the chairman is the prime minister, and the secretary is the chief national security adviser," Havesi explained.

Other members will also reportedly include the head of Orban’s office as well as Hungary’s interior, defense and foreign ministers, who will “meet as needed, but at least once every two weeks,” according to the secretary’s statement, who added that any member of the body can initiate an extraordinary meeting at any time.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban also confirmed the creation of the council, writing on Facebook that “All of Europe is suffering from the consequences of war, economic crisis and increasing migration pressure. In the coming years, we will therefore pay special attention to the defense of Hungary!”

Since Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine in late February, Hungary has refused to send military aid to Kiev and has been hesitant in supporting western sanctions against Moscow, especially in regards to energy imports.

Instead, Orban has insisted on increasing Hungary’s military capabilities while Defense Minister Kristof Szalay-Bobrovniczky ordered to increase the combat readiness of its armed forces in response to the Ukrainian conflict and the influx of migrants on the southern borders of the country.

In late May, Budapest declared a state of emergency over the conflict, granting Orban extraordinary powers. One of the emergency measures enacted by the government was to tax the “extra profits” of banks, insurance companies, airlines and energy and telecom utilities, among others, to fund the country’s military and social safety programs.