Joint press conference

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg with the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán

  • 12 Jun. 2024 -
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  • Last updated: 12 Jun. 2024 12:08

(As delivered)

Prime Minister Orbán, Viktor, it's good to be back in Budapest and to meet with you today.

Thank you for hosting me and my Delegation on the eve of a meeting of NATO Defence Ministers in Brussels later this week, and less than a month ahead of our important Washington Summit with the heads of state and government in July. 

Hungary has been a valued NATO Ally for 25 years. 

You lead one of our multinational battle groups helping to deter aggression. You host important military headquarters, including our Multinational Division Centre. You support stability in the Western Balkans, including with a significant contribution of troops deployed to Kosovo with our KFOR peacekeeping mission.

And since the beginning of Russia's brutal war of aggression against Ukraine, Hungary has provided shelter to many thousands of Ukrainian refugees, and helped with rehabilitation of wounded soldiers.

All of this contributes to our shared security.

And I welcome your statement that you will remain a dedicated and loyal NATO Ally.

Today, the Prime Minister and I have discussed a number of important, and some difficult, issues. 

We also discussed the NATO Summit in Washington next month. 

At the Summit, we will take decisions on key issues including deterrence and defence. Since 2014, NATO has undergone the most significant transformation in our collective defence in a generation. We have put in place the most comprehensive defence plans since the Cold War, with more forces, more capabilities, and more investment. And we have deployed combat-ready troops to the eastern part of the Alliance.

We do all of this not to provoke a conflict, but to prevent a conflict. 

NATO's core task is not to wage war, but to prevent war, as we have done for 75 years by providing credible deterrence and strong collective defence to ensure there is no room for miscalculation by Moscow, or in any other potential adversary about our capacity, as us all, to protect every Ally.

For 75 years, NATO has been the ultimate guarantor of security for our members. Providing peace, freedom and prosperity in the whole of Europe, not least in the countries or the former Warsaw Pact.

Prime Minister, you and I also discussed the situation in Ukraine.

At the Summit, I expect Allies will agree a leading role for NATO in coordinating and providing security assistance and training for Ukraine. I also expect Allies will agree long-term financial pledge to provide military support. This will provide the predictability and accountability that Ukraine needs.

Prime Minister Orbán has made it clear that Hungary will not participate in these NATO efforts.  And I accept this position.

And I'm glad that today the Prime Minister and I have agreed on modalities for Hungary's non-participation in NATO's support to Ukraine. 

No Hungarian personnel will take part in these activities and no Hungarian funds will be used to support them.

At the same time, the Prime Minister has assured me that Hungary will not oppose these efforts, enabling other Allies to move forward.

And he has confirmed that Hungary will continue to meet all of its NATO commitments in full. 

So, Prime Minister Orbán, thank you again for your hospitality. I look forward to continue working together with you. And I'm looking forward to seeing you in Washington. Thank you.


Moderator: Well, thank you very much, Secretary General, we have time for two sort questions. First, it’s the Hungarian national television.

Journalist, Hungarian Evening News (MTV): Thank you very much. Hungarian Evening News. Prime Minister, I would like to ask you what is the guarantee that Hungary will not be forced or coerced by NATO into any undertaking in Ukraine?

Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister of Hungary: [answers in Hungarian]

Moderator: Reuters.

Győri Boldizsár, Reuters: I'm Győri Boldizsár from Reuters News Agency. And I would like to ask Secretary General, Hungary's Foreign Minister repeatedly called NATO's Ukraine mission quote, crazy mission. How can you preserve the unity of the Alliance when a member uses –when a member chooses to use such words?

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General: Well in NATO we are 32 Allies and sometimes there are different opinions but we have proven again and again that we are able to overcome them and find common way forward. And on the increased NATO role in coordinating security assistance and training for Ukraine, I am glad that we have find a way to allow NATO Allies to agree that but at the same time, also accept the position that Hungary will not participate. It's not a NATO obligation to participate in all NATO missions and the operations or activities as long as all NATO Allies adhere to the core obligations in the Washington Treaty, our collective defence, our security guarantees.

So, what the Prime Minister and I have agreed today is that Hungary will not block other Allies to agree a pledge for financial support to Ukraine and leading role for NATO in coordinating support for Ukraine, but at the same time, accept that [Hungary] will not be a part of these activities. And that's a way which I think will work and I am confident that when NATO leaders meet in Washington, we will able then to finalise agreement on these issues.