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Apr 08, 2019 - Zoltán Kovács

Happy birthday, NATO! Hungary and the U.S. celebrate by signing DCA

The world’s most successful military alliance just turned 70, and that means we have another important anniversary to celebrate. It’s been 20 years since Hungary, along with the Czech Republic and Poland, joined NATO and secured our places in the alliance, a great moment in our long-desired return to Europe and the Euro-Atlantic community.

Ensuring that the anniversary celebration at the NATO foreign ministers’ summit on Thursday in Washington would not be only symbolic, Hungary’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó and US Deputy State Secretary John Sullivan signed a Defense Cooperation Agreement that further facilitates the dynamic military partnership between the two countries.

Following the summit, Minister Szijjártó emphasized that for Central Europe, this anniversary carries a special significance. We celebrate those 70 years but especially those 20 years since signing the treaty and becoming part of the most successful military alliance in modern times.

On that day 20 years ago in Brussels, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said “we have arrived at the closure of a long process, our homeland has irrevocably become part of the secure world.”  

“With the adhesion of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to NATO,” PM Orbán continued, “it is not simply the enlargement, the enrichment, of the Alliance that we see, but Central Europe is born again, too. From today on, our peoples can, and do, act in the spirit of our most noble historic tradition. With a common effort, we build a common and secure Central Europe.”

And indeed, what we see today is that together we have managed to build a common and secure Central Europe, a region where terrorist threat has been minimized and borders remain tightly protected.

That improvement, our security, however, is not a given. We must take necessary measures. In 2014, NATO’s member countries agreed to increase military spending to at least two percent of GDP. As of last year, however, only seven countries – the United States, Britain, Poland, Greece Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia – had reached this level. Even though a stronger and more responsive NATO is in the best interest of all the allies, many nations appear reluctant to put that into practice.

Not so with Hungary.

The Orbán Government has made a firm commitment to join the 2-percent club by 2026, embarking on the biggest military development program in the 29 years since the fall of the communist regime. Known as the Zrínyi 2026 Program, the initiative plans a gradual increase in military spending to reach two per cent by 2026, although Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that “we shall reach two per cent more or less by 2024.”

Happy 70th birthday, NATO! Here’s to many more years of strength and “Animus in Consulendo Liber”!