Defence Minister Tours the Western Balkans
In early July Defence Minister Dr. Csaba Hende paid an official visit to the Balkans Joint Operations Area (JOA) where he met the commanders of the NATO- and EU-led missions and those Hungarian troops who are doing their tour of duty in the Balkans. He received reports from EUFOR’s senior Hungarian general and from the commander of the HDF EUFOR contingent on the activities and current tasks of the Hungarian troops. The Defence Minister’s visit was primarily aimed at learning about the Hungarian servicemembers’ living and working conditions. While in Pristina, Dr. Csaba Hende met Zoltán Imecs, the Ambassador of the Republic of Hungary accredited to Kosovo.
Hungarian military missions gain prestige and recognition for the Hungarian Defence Forces, but we should also keep in mind the core responsibility of our armed forces, which consist in the defence of the homeland. The new MoD leadership must meet these two challenges simultaneously and at the same level in the coming years, the Defence Minister said. Dr. Csaba Hende visited the troops of the HDF EUFOR contingent accompanied by Ms. Eleni Tsakopoulos Kounalakis, the US Ambassador in Budapest and Hungarian CHOD LTG Tibor Benkő. The Defence Minister met COMEUFOR Maj-Gen. Bernhard Bair, Brig-Gen. David Enyeart, Commander, NATO HQ Sarajevo and DCOM EUFOR ALTHEA Brig-Gen. Tibor Nagy, the senior Hungarian soldier in the EUFOR mission, then attended a staff meeting to learn about the Hungarian troops’ tasks and life.
In Pristina, Kosovo the Defence Minister first received reports at the NATO KFOR HQ on the tasks of the Hungarian troops serving in the mission, and then he met COMKFOR LTG Markus J. Bentler to officially discuss with him the main objectives of the mission and the current issues in the transformation of KFOR. They held a joint press conference to inform the journalist about the agenda of their talks and their standpoints.
At the KFOR MNBG-W HQ in Pec, Kosovo LTC (Eng.) Zoltán Katona reported to the Minister on the structure and the current tasks of the MNBG-W, while Maj. István Cseklán briefed him on the organization and task scheme of the HDF KFOR contingent. In what followed, the Defence Minister met COL Davide Di Bartolo, the commander of MNBG-W at a working lunch that was taken in a good atmosphere while they had an informal discussion about the issues relating to the MNBG-W.
Afterwards Dr. Csaba Hende briefed the soldiers at a staff meeting held in Camp Villaggio Italia about the current ideas on national defence, then personally talked to the servicemembers of the Hungarian KFOR contingent about their main concerns.