Defence Legislative Package for Hungary’s Security
(Source: Hungary Ministry of Defence; issued Nov 30, 2018)
After the consultations with parliamentary parties regarding the proposed defence legislative package scheduled for Thursday, the Defence Minister found it objectionable that the opposition parties have not submitted any motions of amendment in connection with the proposals so far.

Tibor Benkő spoke about this in light of the fact that the meeting originally planned to be held with the participation of seven parties was only attended by Jobbik from among the opposition parties. In a communication sent to the Hungarian news agency MTI on Wednesday, MSZP stated that they will not attend the consultation, while LMP and DK followed suit on Thursday.

After the meeting which lasted one and a half hours, the Defence Minister said it is regrettable that from among the opposition parties, “only Jobbik found important” a consultation concerning fundamental defence issues.

He indicated that he submitted his package of proposals to Parliament on 31 October. The parliamentary groups would have had the possibility to submit motions of amendment or to initiate consultations on the issue since then, but none of them have done so.

Lajos Kósa (Fidesz), Chair of Parliament’s Defence and Police Committee described the absence of MSZP, DK, Párbeszéd and LMP as incomprehensible. He drew attention to the fact that Parliament has not yet voted either on the bill seeking to change the organisational procedure for the management of defence, or on the proposal concerning defence workers. The opposition has not submitted a single motion of amendment in connection with these. Motions have only been submitted by the defence committee, with a government majority.

Mr Benkő highlighted that a key element of the amendment of the defence legislation is to render independent the high-level military and strategic leadership integrated into the Ministry of Defence. The Minister would only have management powers, would identify objectives, would allocate the necessary resources and would supervise implementation, while the military leadership would implement the designated tasks, said the Minister. The proposal package also features the introduction of the concept of ‘defence emergency’ and the creation of a law on defence employees.

In answer to the question as to whether the organisational separation of the Ministry of Defence and the Hungarian Defence Forces will weaken civilian controls, Mr Kósa said civilian control over the Ministry of Defence and the Hungarian Defence Forces is exercised fundamentally by Parliament and its Defence and Police Committee.

Gábor Staudt representing Jobbik stressed that defence emergency should be regulated among the provisions concerning extraordinary situations. He said by virtue of the government declaring a state of defence emergency, Parliament and the opposition may have less control over the situation compared with other special situations.

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