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Is Hungary a free-rider in NATO?

May 23rd, 2012

A centrist analyst urges the government to increase military expenditure, and argues that peace does  not come free of charge, and that Hungary should not expect her allies to defend her and get nothing in return.

Véleményvezér, calls the outcome of a survey by Foreign Policy magazine humiliating for Hungary. The magazine sought the opinions of 59 international security experts, 5 of whom thought Hungary  deserves to be expelled from NATO. Greece was the only member country that got more negative votes. “Of course nobody is going to chase us out of NATO, Véleményvezér admits, but adds that the question can fairly be asked: how long can Hungary dodge its responsibilities as a member of the Organisation?

The author accuses Hungarian politicians of regarding defence for the past decade as a mostly superfluous drain on the budget, since they believe that Hungary can be a free-rider in the military security system provided by NATO members. NATO may be inconspicuous – he argues – but it is the main player maintaining the balance of power in the world. Hungary and her politicians must understand that membership in the alliance is not a free lunch, and that NATO is the only option for Hungary in the present international landscape. The humiliating opinion of a few members of a select group of experts was probably provoked by the “destructive foreign policy “ Hungary has conducted over the past two years,  but the free-rider attitude has been a long time in the making. The conservative blogger welcomes PM Orbán’s announcement that Hungary will take over the air defence of the Baltic countries for six months and hopes it will signal the beginning of a new, more engaged era.

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