How Hungary’s Internal Security Concerns Are Diverting Its Focus From NATO

How Hungary’s Internal Security Concerns Are Diverting Its Focus From NATO
Polish and Hungarian security forces patrol along the temporary border fence on the Hungarian-Serbian border near Roszke, Hungary, Oct. 13, 2016 (AP photo by Zoltan Mathe).

Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series about NATO members’ contributions to and relationships with the alliance.

Since joining NATO nearly two decades ago, Hungary has taken advantage of the collective defense offered by the alliance to reduce the size of its armed forces while improving their capacity. While the country has been a reliable partner in NATO missions, the focus under Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who assumed his post in 2010, has shifted toward internal security threats, especially in light of the migration crisis of recent years. In an email interview, Gen. Zoltán Szenes, former chief of staff of Hungary’s armed forces and a professor at the National University of Public Service in Budapest, describes how this shift, combined with a realignment toward Russia, is affecting the way Hungary’s government views NATO.

WPR: How has Hungary benefited from being a member of NATO, and to what extent has it participated in various alliance operations since joining in 1999?

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