Hungary – Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said he had taken the necessary steps in order to double the Hungarian army’s personnel from 2017. Orbán also wishes the military instruction of children to develop, especially using sport. The Hungarian PM wants it to serve as a counter-culture to reinforce social cohesion, patriotism and the spirit of sacrifice.
The Hungarian army is modernizing since 2010 and the return to power of Viktor Orbán, but it is unsatisfactory for the strongman of Budapest, in a context which sees, he said, “the neighbors rearming themselves.” Viktor Orbán said in an interview given to the Catholic radio Katolikus Rádió he will almost double the size of the Hungarian Army from 2017. The Magyar Honvédség, the Hungarian army, has in its ranks 30,000 soldiers, of which 23,000 are active military and which has approximately 4-5,000 operational troops. Orbán wants to recruit 20,000 reservists.
Hungary is a member of NATO and is theoretically obliged to spend 2% of its annual GDP on defense. So far, the defense budget in Hungary stagnated just below 1%. The government of Viktor Orbán plans to launch a gradual growth until 2022 regarding the budget allocated to the army by increasing it of 0.1% of GDP each year. This recruitment campaign echoes the recent police recruitment campaign in order to protect the southern border from the migration wave.
Viktor Orbán wants to use the army as a tool of counter-culture
Beyond this strengthening of the Hungarian Army, Viktor Orbán also wants the army to be present in schools, especially in the area of sport. The Minister of Defense stated that the project is to strengthen the “patriotic commitment and spirit of sacrifice” among youngsters. This will be realized also by “proposing more and more to young people, in the light of the national interest, to be volunteering in the reserve,” added the Minister. A new sport institution of the army will be created for the purpose, aiming to reach schoolchildren from the age of 7. This plan seems to be part of his plan for a “cultural counter-revolution”.
The Defense Minister has since January already mentioned some parts of these projects. He has talked about the government’s commitment to strengthen the “military school program”, so that children would learn in school the basic military knowledge. The Minister explained that this is in order to introduce a kind of counter-culture to give the children a morality and a way of thinking based on patriotism. According to Mr Simicskó, Defense Minister since November 2015, sporty and patriotic life style are out of fashion because “young people are at their computer, so the social and sens of civic responsibility are minimal”.