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Mar 23, 2017

Hungary to send more troops to fight in war against terror

“What we are seeing is that the greatest global danger to the civilized world is not posed by a state, but by a terrorist organization, and primarily by the Islamic State terrorist organization," Hungary's foreign minister said

The Hungarian government has said it will increase and extend its military participation in the global fight against terrorism.

The government will recommend to parliament that it authorizes an increase in the number of Hungarian military personnel fighting against the terrorists in Iraq and willl increase soldier numbers to 200, and an extension of Hungary’s military presence in Iraq, which is due to expire at the end of 2017, will continue to the end of 2019.

Péter Szijjártó, minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, made the pledge during an international conference against terrorism held in Washington.

Foreign Ministers from the countries involved in the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS, and those wishing to fight terrorism in general, met at the event organized by the US government and chaired by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

“The government will be recommending to parliament that it authorizes an increase in the number of Hungarian military personnel fighting against the terrorists in Iraq and an extension of Hungary’s military presence.

“What we are seeing is that the greatest global danger to the civilized world is not posed by a state, but by a terrorist organization, and primarily by the Islamic State terrorist organization," he said.

The minister also felt it important to stress that international terrorism based religious extremism also represents the greatest threat to the civilized world at a regional level today.

“This is why we are glad that the new US administration led by Donald Trump has developed a new, comprehensive strategy to defeat terrorism, and is finally not simply saying that we must act against terrorism, but that terrorism must be completely eradicated within the foreseeable future," he said.

Speaking to AP, Minister Szijjarto lamented what he called a "very bad" US-Hungarian political relationship under President Barack Obama. Whereas American diplomats regularly chided Hungary's government over allegations of shrinking media freedom, and declining judicial and electoral independence, he said the situation has improved since Trump made clear the "export of democracy" was no longer a focus of U.S. foreign policy.

"We are excited to work together," Minister Szijjarto said, recounting positive phone conversations he had with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and between PM Orbán and President Trump last November.

The Global Coalition to Counter ISIS has achieved successes over the past two years. The terrorist organization’s fighters have been reduced by one third, and a total of almost 19,000 air strikes have been performed against Islamic State targets.

Assessing the successes achieved so far, Minister Szijjártó highlighted the fact that these successful missions have also closed the majority of the terrorist organization’s supply routes, in addition to which the terrorist have lost 61 percent of the territory they had previously occupied in Iraq and 30 percent of their previous gains in Syria. The minister said he thought there was a realistic chance of coalition forces freeing the Iraqi city of Mosul and the Syrian city of Raqqa from the terrorists before the end of this year.

“Hungary has been a member of the coalition against terrorism from the very beginning, and we have won recognition through our role as one of the 27 countries that are sending troops into battle against ISIS," he stressed.

The minister declared that Hungary is participating in the fight against terrorism fundamentally because “the barbaric terrorism represented by the Islamic State and the propaganda it issues calling on people to commit acts of terrorism represents a direct danger to the security of Europe, and within it Hungary, because the terrorist organization is one of the causes of migration pressure on Europe, and because the Islamic State is striving to destroy Christian communities in other parts of the world."