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Apr 22, 2016

Hungarian soldiers to be stationed in the Baltic region

Soldiers will conduct three-month stints in the Baltic region from 2017 to increase NATO's presence in the region

Péter Szijjártó, minister of foreign affairs and trade, has confirmed that Hungary will send 150 troops to the Baltic region in 2017, according to Hungarian news agency MTI.

During a meeting held to discuss the V4 on Friday, dignitaries laid out plans to be put before their ministers of defense, prior to the NATO summit in Warsaw this summer.

"A political agreement has been reached," said Minister Szijjártó, "concerning the fact that the countries of the Visegrad Group will each be sending a contingent of soldiers to the Baltic in three-month shifts beginning in 2017 within the framework of measures aimed at increasing NATO's presence in the region."

"This one-year military presence on the part of the V4 countries clearly indicates our solidarity with the countries of the Baltic.”

On the agenda at today's meeting were a number of pressing issues affecting the Baltic states, including security cooperation with NATO, cooperation with Russia, and the European Union's Eastern Partnership Programme.

Elaborating further on Hungary’s involvement, the minister stressed that further expansion of NATO’s presence in the Baltic was relative to maintaining NATO’s credibility in the region.

“If NATO does not provide positive feedback to Georgia and Macedonia, then Europe will be bringing trouble upon itself,” stressed the minister, adding that these countries could become destabilised which would be detrimental to Europe’s security efforts.

The Hungarian government also stressed that they are pushing for the European Union to afford visa-free travel to Georgian and Ukrainian citizens as soon as possible.

Today’s meeting concluded with discussions on the existing sanctions with Russia. It was revealed that Russia’s largest energy company Gazprom was cooperating with Europe’s largest energy supplier on the North stream gas pipeline and that the French president had invited Russian President Vladimir Putin for talks in Paris.

“We must have an honest, open and detailed debate [on the issue]. We in no way support the automatic, ‘under-the-table’ extension of sanction,” the minister concluded.