Secretary General stresses need for smart defence spending with Hungarian and EU leaders
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen visited Budapest on 25 February 2011 and met with President Pal Schmitt, Minister of Foreign Affairs Janos Martonyi, and Defence Minister Csaba Hende. As Hungary currently holds the EU Presidency, the Secretary General also attended the EU Defence Ministers meeting.
During the meetings with the Hungarian leadership, the Secretary General expressed his gratitude for Hungary's important contribution to NATO's main operations in Afghanistan and Kosovo. While Afghanistan is NATO's main operation, Mr. Rasmussen stressed that this doesn't mean that Kosovo is forgotten. "The KFOR mission is a real success story, as the gradual reduction of troop numbers reflects the improved security situation", Rasmussen said. He also welcomed Hungary's support as EU President for his proposals to strengthen NATO-EU relations.
Regarding the crisis situation in Libya, Secretary General Rasmussen stressed that now priority had to be given to evacuation and possible humanitarian assistance. Further discussions would focus on how Allies - in a pragmatic way - could help those in need and manage the consequences of this crisis.
The Secretary General also had the opportunity to address the EU Ministers of Defence. The discussions focused on the need to enhance NATO-EU cooperation, not only regarding political consultations but also in view of ongoing operations. Another key topic was "smart defence". In these times of financial austerity, more than ever cooperation between NATO and the EU is no longer a choice, but a must. Mr Rasmussen stated that the financial crisis calls for "smart defence, which ultimately promotes more coherence and effectiveness in defence spending in our member states". The Secretary General referred to the C17 Strategic Airlift Capability based in Hungary as a good example of this: a multinational initiative delivering a vital capability.
The same topics will also be high on the agenda of the NATO Defence Ministers meeting in Brussels on 10 and 11 March 2011.