“Changes in the European missile defence system are insignificant, but the Russians seem willing to participate in further negotiations. The most important lesson regarding the situation in Afghanistan is that Afghanistan must not be abandoned,” said Mr. Csaba Hende Minister of Defence in his interview given to the Hungarian News Agency, MTI, after his meeting with the Defence Ministers of NATO Member States on Wednesday, 23rd October.

“Hungary considers the practical cooperation and dialogue with Moscow important,” stated Mr Csaba Hende calling Russia a strategic partner of NATO. For this reason the Hungarian Minister of Defence calls for more frequent negotiations between the ministers in the NATO-Russia Council.

In the opinion of Mr Hende, in spite of the ideological differences, the practical cooperation with Russia is successful. Arming the Afghan National Army, the maintenance of attack helicopters, transportation of supplies to Afghanistan theatre, assistance to the withdrawal of international troops, fight against piracy off the coasts of Somalia, and fight against terrorism, listed the Minister of Defence the fields of cooperation with Russia.

About the negotiations with the states of the international forces in Afghanistan and the Afghan Ministry of Defence the Hungarian minister said that everything is happening in accordance with the plan. According to his evaluation, it is palpable that the casualties of the Afghan armed forces have increased since being fully responsible for the security of the entire territory of the country, however, NATO is able to counterbalance this through its activity and assistance. Regarding the presidential elections in Afghanistan, due next year, Mr Hende said that the more than 300-thousand-strong Afghan police and army can secure the elections. Answering the question of the MTI, however, he also added, that the lesson has to be learned and Afghanistan must not be abandoned like it was by the Soviets in the 1980s.

Afghanistan is not in the position of being capable of maintaining such a military force, explained Mr Csaba Hende and he also added that the annual budget the allies determined during the Chicago NATO Summit was 4.1 billion US dollars is. Hungary has one and a half million dollars to contribute to this amount in three years.

“If this army doesn’t get paid and doesn’t get equipment or if the soldiers do not have anything to eat then they cannot be expected to meet their responsibilities,” emphasized the Minister of Defence also making the point that every country should explain the public the reasons for providing for another country from the taxpayers’ money. “Otherwise all investments have been futile and instability, terrorism and the Taliban will return,” argued the Hungarian Minister of Defence. He said that his Afghan colleague was hopeful and confident that they would successfully cope with all troubles.