NATO Deputy Secretary General visits Hungary
The NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller travelled to Budapest on Tuesday (26 February 2019) and met with Minister of Foreign Affairs Péter Szijjártó, with Minister of Defence Tibor Benkõ and with other high-level government officials. She also delivered a keynote speech at the Ambassadorial Conference of the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In her speech Ms. Gottemoeller noted that the security environment today is more complex and often more chaotic than it has been in a long time. She highlighted that with its ongoing pattern of aggressive actions, “Russia continues to reject and undermine the rules and institutions that have created stability, prosperity and peace in Europe and around the world for many decades” and that Russia is undermining one of the pillars of nuclear arms control. “Russia’s new SSC-8 missile system directly contravenes the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces - INF- Treaty”, she said. “Russia’s new missiles are mobile, easy to hide and nuclear capable. They can reach cities such as Budapest in minutes”.
Ms. Gottemoeller stressed that “there are no new US missiles in Europe, only Russian ones”. She also noted that NATO Allies have repeatedly raised concern with Russia over this new missile system for the last six years, but that “Unfortunately, our concerns have been ignored”.
Ms. Gottemoeller mentioned that this is one of the many reasons why ongoing dialogue with Russia is so important. “We disagree on so many things. But to stop talking to each other would only increase the risk of actions on either side being misinterpreted and of events spiralling out of control”.
She said that Russia’s “consistent cheating by developing, testing and deploying the SSC-8” has forced the United States, with the full support of all NATO Allies including Hungary, to suspend its obligations under the INF Treaty, stressing that Allies hope that that Russia will return to compliance and destroy its missiles, launchers and associated equipment. “There is still a window of opportunity for Russia to comply with the treaty, until August”, she said.
Ms. Gottemoeller thanked Hungary for its support to Ukraine in the conflict with Russia, including with reverse gas flows, humanitarian assistance and medical treatments to wounded soldiers.
Ms. Gottemoeller underscored that the meetings of the NATO-Ukraine Commission are “a central part of our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and a powerful way to ensure its government stays on track with reform”.
“Allies have acted in solidarity with Hungary when it comes to Ukraine’s Law on Education. In the Brussels Declaration and in the assessment of Ukraine’s Annual Programme, all Allies urge Ukraine to fully implement the recommendations of the Venice Commission”, she said.
Ms. Gottemoeller also welcomed the resolution by the Hungarian government to reach 2% GDP on defence by 2024, and the intent to spend 20% of the defence budget on major equipment from next year onwards.
“Our actions must demonstrate that we are investing in our deterrence and defence, and doing everything in our power to maintain peace and stability in our neighbourhood – be that to the south or to the east”, she said. “NATO has helped to keep the peace in Europe for 70 years. By standing in solidarity, I fully expect that we will do so for many more to come”.