National Press Club

Hungary Defense Chief Hails Security Pact with US

March 12, 2009 | By Peter Hickman

Hungarian Minister of Defence Imre Szekeres

Hungarian Minister of Defence Imre Szekeres

Photo/Image: Ben Keller

Hungarian defense minister Imre Szekeres told a March 11 Newsmaker his country's security cooperation agreement with the U.S., which includes training of the national army, makes it possible for his nation to "maintain our military capabilities."

NATO member Hungary has approximately 400 troops in Afghanistan, with another 100 planned, and Szekeres predicted that 2009 "can be a real turning point" in the fighting in that country.

He also predicted Georgia and Ukraine would eventually join NATO "when the situation matures enough", without further explanation. And he called Russia a "strategic partner" of NATO, and that "it will remain so." NATO wants to strengthen this partnership, he added.

As to Russia eventually joining the Atlantic alliance, Szekeres said NATO maintains an "open door policy" and that any country that meets its criteria could become a member.