Press statement by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán following his meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

12 June 2024, Budapest

I also welcome you, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I would like to extend a warm welcome to the Secretary General of NATO, our Secretary General, who – for well-known reasons – has a high reputation in Hungary. I am pleased that during his term as Secretary General, cooperation between NATO and Hungary has been strengthened. The Secretary General has always been a willing partner in this, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for this work.

Today we reviewed the relationship between NATO and Hungary. I pointed out to the Secretary General that Hungary is a loyal and committed member of NATO. Currently 1,300 Hungarian soldiers are participating in NATO operations. Thirteen hundred Hungarian soldiers. We are one of the small number of NATO members who are fulfilling all the commitments they have made: our military expenditure, our defence expenditure, is more than 2 per cent of our gross domestic product; and we are also well on track to meet or exceed the 20 per cent capability development target. We are engaged in air policing tasks in Slovakia, Slovenia and – from time to time – the Baltic states. And we are the NATO liaison embassy to important countries in Central Asia and Africa. These are contributions that Hungary can make to strengthen NATO. Secretary General, we shall continue to deliver on these commitments.

Another important topic of discussion was the Russo-Ukrainian war. It is well known that Hungary’s position differs from that of the majority of NATO member countries. On the question of how to find the shortest route to peace from this war situation, Hungary has answers which are different from the answers of the others. Hungary recognises that the opinions that differ from its opinion – from our opinion – are considerable in terms of weight and number. On every occasion we have been able to express our position, and we are grateful to the Secretary General for this. So we have been able to express our position and present our analysis of the situation in every NATO meeting, but Hungary must admit that it does not have the capacity and the strength to change the large number of opinions that differ from its own. This is why in today’s negotiations Hungary has made it clear that, although they differ from what our interpretation of the situation suggests to be reasonable decisions, our country does not wish to block decisions in NATO which are shared and urged for by the other member countries. In today’s discussion what we have focused on – and I asked the Secretary General to make this clear – is that, in accordance with NATO rules and our traditions, any involvement in military action outside NATO territory can only be voluntary. This was confirmed by the Secretary General in today’s meeting, and so Hungary has received the guarantees that we need. This is especially true in light of the fact that the most important issue under consideration in the European Parliament election a few days ago was the question of war and peace. In this the citizens of Hungary issued a mandate – a mandate to the Hungarian Government – that Hungary should not participate in military action outside NATO territory, in wars outside NATO territory, and that Hungary should follow what it sees as the shortest route to peace.

I thank the Secretary General very much for making today’s visit possible. Thank you for this meeting. And thank you for the decisions that you have shared with us.