Thanks to the improving epidemiological situation, the defence policy directors of V4 countries had an opportunity to meet in person in Budapest on 8–9 July. The Hungarian delegation was headed by Dr. Gergely Németh, Deputy State Secretary for Defence Policy of the Ministry of Defence. The primary goal of the meeting was to discuss the defence policy and military-to-military cooperation program of the Hungarian V4 presidency which started on 1 July 2021, and to make preparations for the V4 defence ministers’ meeting to be held in the autumn of 2021.
In the first half of the discussion, V4 Presidency Coordinator György Rábai introduced the Hungarian presidency’s defence priorities. Hungary’s primary goal is to strengthen regional V4 identity and the so-called V4 “trademark” through the development of defence policy and military-to-military cooperation. To achieve that, on the one hand it is necessary to carry on with the already functioning successful joint projects such as the regular periodical standby of the V4 EU Battle Group and the combined exercises. On the other hand, Hungary would like to extend the V4 defence cooperation to new areas. The segment of social and cultural relations stands out among the possible new areas, as it offers opportunities to forge closer relations with regard to territorial defence forces, army chaplain services and war grave care. Besides, a revision of the coordination structure of the cooperation also serves the deepening of V4 defence cooperation, and Hungary would like to use it to provide a uniform framework for the activities of various leadership and professional formations.
In addition to the defence program of the Hungarian V4 presidency, the defence policy directors discussed some current NATO and EU issues as well. As for current NATO issues, they primarily exchanged ideas about the implementation of decisions made at the NATO Summit held in Brussels on 14 June. In connection with them, they agreed that the heads of states and governments had made some decisions of historic significance whose implementation poses a major challenge to the allies in the next one year. Among the taskings, they highlighted the preparation of NATO’s new Strategic Concept, during which it is important that the V4 take joint action to assert our regional interests. Hungary’s position is that preserving NATO’s 360-degree approach and its three essential core tasks (collective defence, crisis management and cooperative security) is an indispensable element in this process.
Of the topics on the EU defence agenda, the defence policy directors first of all discussed the EU Strategic Compass, which is due to be completed by March 2022. They emphasized that they primarily expect the document to provide a clear medium-term guidance and realistic strategic goals for the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). Another important aspect is that the development of the CSDP means at once the strengthening of NATO’s European pillar. With regard to the Strategic Compass, Hungary considers its Capability Development basket especially important, and aims at strengthening the coherence between the EU’s capability development process and NATO’s Defence Planning Process.
According to plans of the Hungarian V4 presidency, the V4 defence ministers’ meeting will be held in Hungary between 30 September and 1 October.
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