Hungary’s Government, headed by Orbán, is responsible for both the National Security Strategy and the National Military Strategy of the country. In broad terms, Hungary is not threatened by military aggression and has low risk of any other traditional type of security threat. Most of its defense works with the security umbrella of both NATO, an organization which the country joined in 1998 in Orbán´s first term as Prime Minister, and the EU, acceded in 2003. As a matter of fact, these pacts are a cornerstone of the country’s New National Security Strategy of 2020. This plan, drafted by Orbán’s government, focuses on Europe’s defense capabilities and the strengthening of relations with France and the UK, as well as strengthening security alliances with NATO and the EU. However, illegal migration is the biggest security threat in the eyes of Orbán. Defense measures against Orbán´s number 1 foe, immigrants, have cost the country roughly 900 million euros. While his anti-migration views are costly, there are more tangible concerns in terms of security and military strategy, mostly relating to spending ( a matter pushed on heavily by Trump and the United States), and energy security from Russia.
NATO and Increased Defense Spending
During Orbán’s first term in office as Prime Minister of Hungary, possibly his most influential move when it came to security was joining NATO in 1998, only with two other former Warsaw Pact countries. While belonging to NATO provides large security stability to the country, Trump has shakened things up. Ever since he came to office, there has been pressure on all Member States of the organization to step up their funding. Europe has also been pressured to spend more on defense. As a result, Orbán promised that a 2% economic output would be directed at NATO. Foreign Minister Szijjarto, close ally of Orbán, stated Hungary understood Trump’s concern and desire that Europeans spend more on security, stating: “We have been implementing a very significant and robust modernization strategy of our armed forces, which will last until 2026. We will hit the 2% (level) in 2023.”
Russia: Energy Helping Hand to Fidesz
As mentioned, Hungary faces minimal traditional security threats. While Orbán takes migration as the ultimate threat for the integrity of the country, reality is less scary and other issues are more salient in terms of security, mainly energy. While most countries in Central and Eastern Europe are trying to end energy reliance on Russia, Hungary is heading in the opposite direction. Cheap energy prices are key in Orbán’s political plans. In 2014, there were very important cuts in prices and voters told how much money Fidesz energy strategy was saving them, leading to a massive 3rd victory for the party. However, the price cuts did not end there: currently, Hungary household gas prices are the lowest in all the EU.
However, in terms of security, Hungary’s increasing energy ties with Russia worries both NATO and the EU. These organizations urge countries to stop dependency on cheap Russian energy and seek their energy elsewhere. Regardless, Hungary only seems to be getting more and more dependent. Russia supplies practically all the gas the country annually consumes. While dependency is something usually to be avoided, Orbán seems to be rather careless of the geopolitical implications it can carry. Since the previous supply contract with Gazprom, Russian energy giant, is expiring, there is a new contract on the making which will again ensure very low prices for Hungarian consumers.