“We have discussed many issues and we are in agreement that our approach to many defence topics is identical, which makes me very happy. We talked about our cooperation in the North Atlantic Alliance, this year we celebrate the 20th anniversary of our countries joining NATO,” said defence minister Mariusz Błaszczak after the meeting with Tibor Benkoe, Minister of Defence of Hungary.
On Tuesday, March 19, the defence minister paid a visit to Budapest. Defence ministers signed a letter of intent regarding Poland's accession to the NATO Military Medicine Center of Excellence.
Minister Mariusz Błaszczak thanked Minister Tibor Benkoe for the involvement of Hungarian soldiers in the Multinational Division North-East in Elbląg and in the Multinational Corps North-East in Szczecin, as well as for the presence of Hungarian troops in NATO centers of excellence in Poland - for military police and counterintelligence.
Ministers raised the issue of strengthening the eastern flank and increased allied presence in the region as well as the operations of the Multinational Division North-East in Elbląg, coordinating NATO battalion battle groups stationed at the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea under th eFP (enhanced Forward Presence) and tFP (tailored Forward Presence) programs.
The common goals of the defence policies of Poland and Hungary were also underlined by Minister Tibor Benkoe:
“We see defensive matters in similar way. We were thinking the same way with Poland in 2015 about illegal immigration, for which I thanked the Polish Minister of National Defence. Within the framework of the North Atlantic Alliance, we think similarly in terms of threats from the southern and eastern directions. I will mention one of our tasks - the mission to protect the air space of the Baltic States. Poland is currently fulfilling this mission and it will later be taken over by the Hungarian air force.”
Minister Benkoe remarked that basing on, among other things, the experience of Poland, he plans to create 20,000 Hungarian territorial troops by 2026.
“We talked about the development of our armed forces, Polish and Hungarian, about the need to increase the number of soldiers and modernization. We also talked about the experiences of creating territorial defense forces, about the whole system, thanks to which we can include in the defence system all those who want to serve their homeland, want to be ready to serve their nations in a crisis situation,” said Minister Mariusz Blaszczak.
Ministers also discussed cooperation within the Visegrad Group. The V4 and Croatia will start the duty of the European Union battle group on July 1.
Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak announced that another duty of the Visegrad Battle Group will take place in 2023.
The head of the Ministry of National Defence also pointed out that Poland would once again be involved in UN missions. “I am very happy that Poland is returning in the company of Hungary to the UNIFIL mission in Lebanon. Thank you for the fact that Polish soldiers and Hungarian soldiers will be able to participate in this mission,” he emphasized.
The heads of defence ministries of Poland and Hungary discussed the results of the last meeting of NATO defence ministers and the European Union's defence initiatives, including the PESCO projects.
Minister Mariusz Błaszczak deposited a wreath at the Katyn Martyrs' Monument in Budapest and together with the Hungarian Defence Minister Tibor Benkoe lit candles under the memorial plaques of the secretary of the Council for the Protection of Memory of Battles and Martyrdom Andrzej Przewoźnik, who died in the Smolensk plane crash and under the two oaks planted in memory of two soldiers of Hungarian origin murdered in Katyn: Aladar Emanuel Korompay and Oskar Rudolf Kühnel.
During the visit, Minister Błaszczak also presented Endre Mate, the founder of the reconstruction group “Wysocki Legion”, the Knight's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland.
President Andrzej Duda awarded Mate this distinction for his outstanding contribution to the Polish community in Hungary and for popularizing the history of Polish arms.