NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen stressed the importance of multinational cooperation to improve defence capabilities during his visit to Hungary on Monday (1 July 2013), which included talks with top Hungarian officials and a visit to the Strategic Airlift Capability at the NATO airbase in Pápa. “This is a perfect example of smart cooperation: nations working together to provide a capability which they could not afford on their own,” the Secretary General said.
Mr. Fogh Rasmussen participated, together with Hungarian Defence Minister Csaba Hende and other dignitaries, in a ground-breaking ceremony of the construction of a new hangar for the Strategic Airlift Capability. The Secretary General also met with pilots and maintenance crews during his visit to the base. Hungary hosts the Strategic Airlift Capability, which brings together 10 NATO Allies (Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and the United States), and two partners Finland and Sweden, to provide three C-17 heavy transport aircraft. These are used for transport to Afghanistan, and have been used in other disaster-relief transport, including in Haiti. “From Central Asia to the Central Caribbean, from Kosovo to Pakistan, these aircraft show that you do not have to be a big nation to make a big difference, and to have a long reach. You have to be smart, and you have to work together,” said the Secretary General.
After his visit to Pápa, Mr. Fogh Rasmussen flew on to Budapest in a C-17. In the Hungarian capital, he met with President Janos Ader, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and laid a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Heroes Square.
The Secretary General, during his meeting with the President, handed over the private records of 22 North Atlantic Council meetings between 1956-59 which discussed the Hungarian uprising and its aftermath. “You can see how concerned NATO Allies were about events in Hungary in ’56,” said Mr. Fogh Rasmussen. “Let me take this opportunity to pay tribute to the courage of Hungarians who stood up against oppression at that time.”
The Secretary General commended Prime Minister Orbán for his very strong commitment to the transatlantic Alliance and congratulated Hungary on assuming the presidency of the Visegrad group today. He said, "such cooperation benefits NATO and it benefits Europe. Such cooperation is vital when all our nations are facing financial challenges. I welcome the efforts Hungary is making to end the decline of defence spending and I encourage you to continue looking for ways to make better use of available funds through increased investment in modern capabilities."