Home » Politics » Hungary ousts hundreds from top army ranks

Hungary ousts hundreds from top army ranks



Hungary’s nationalist government ousted hundreds of senior military leaders in the most far-reaching overhaul of the central European nation’s army since it joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
The dismissals affect the top ranks, including generals, with colonels and lieutenant colonels making up the biggest share, Defense Minister Kristof Szalay-Bobrovniczky said in an interview on Monday. It was the first time the government confirmed the scale of the changes, with the final number of departures to be known next month, he said.
Some opposition politicians said the aim was to weaken the country’s western orientation during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and to fill the military with political loyalists as the next step in Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s power consolidation. Orban has extended his influence over the courts, media and even universities since 2010, in a self-proclaimed challenge to liberal democracy within the European Union.
Szalay-Bobrovniczky, who assumed office in May after Orban’s fourth consecutive landslide election win, rejected the criticism and said the changes were long overdue.
“You can’t have hidden agendas when doing things on this scale,” Szalay-Bobrovniczky said during the interview in his office, where nearby two assault rifles and a pistol lay on his desk. “I want to introduce meritocracy and competition in the defense forces.”
Orban has repeatedly threatened — but not carried out — a veto on ever-expanding EU sanctions against Russia, clashing with allies over his lukewarm support for Ukraine. On Friday, he told state radio that Ukraine’s allies had effectively made themselves part of the war by increasingly sending modern weaponry to help Kyiv fight Russian invaders.
Key to the revamp is a decree signed by Orban last week that eases rules for the dismissal of experienced soldiers. Those who have served at least 25 years and have turned 45 can be fired with just two months notice.
Szalay-Bobrovniczky said the defense force was burdened by a bloated leadership. But it’s also struggling to fill its ranks, with about 8,000 to 10,000 unfilled positions. The plan is to expand it to “multiples” of the current 37,640 personnel ceiling, he said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend