Orbán purges the Hungarian military

(To Andrea Gaspardo)

The news is one that makes your blood freeze due to its long-term implications, however we can bet that, given the squint that characterizes the Italian mass media and the all-Italian stubbornness in ignoring the incoming storms until it's too late, even this umpteenth pickaxe by the Magyar prime minister (or perhaps it would be better to start quietly calling him "dictator"?) Viktor Mihály Orbán will soon be forgotten as if nothing had happened.

Using as a pretext that of "rejuvenating and modernizing the Defense", the "premier" of Budapest had 170 senior officers of the "Magyar Honvédség", the Hungarian Defense Forces, fired. The dismissals take place as part of a government decree which provides for the "possibility" of officers to retire after 25 years of service.

In reality, those affected by this rule will not be reduced to poverty since they will still continue to receive 70% of the last salary obtained, yet it is also true that it was the Ministry of Defense itself, chaired by Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky since 2022, who personally summon the interested parties one by one in order to communicate the unappealable decision, suggesting that the 170 generals and colonels now forcibly retired could only be the tip of the iceberg of a much more ambitious process whose final objective would be to to guarantee loyalty to the executive and to Orbán himself of the Armed Forces. And here lies the crux of the matter because the "deposed" would have been implicitly accused of being too "pro-NATO".

Interesting to note that it was Orbán himself who supervised the process of Hungary joining the Atlantic Alliance in 1999, even before the country became a member of the European Union. However, nowadays, those events have faded into a distant memory and the "Land of the Magyars" is well on its way to becoming a full-blown dictatorship.

It would be strange if we now witnessed something in Hungary comparable to what happened in Turkey in 2016 following the failed coup aimed at overthrowing Recep Tayyip Erdoğan from the post of president of the republic. Also on the occasion of the "Anatolian purges" an entire class of officers of the Turkish Armed Forces “raised in NATO” was brutally removed from the "political chessboard" thus depriving the Atlantic Alliance (and the United States of America first) of any leverage within Turkish power.

Following a path parallel to that of the Turkish sultan, the "voivode of the Lands of Santo Stefano" is also pursuing a very shrewd policy which aims to exploit the dual membership of the European Union and NATO solely to promote Hungary's national interests and keep everything else at arm's length.

How long this little game will go on is not known at the moment, even if the acceleration placed by the Magyar leadership on the rearmament plan could provide us with some clues.

In 2016, the Budapest government decided to approve a massive military reform and rearmament plan called "Zrínyi 2026" which, as the name suggests, was supposed to give the Hungarian Defense Forces status by 2026 for the first time since 1956. and the international consideration they once deserved. Among other things, the plan envisaged the growth of the number of military professionals from the current 37.650 to over 50.000, reinforced by 40.000 reservists (against the current 20.000).

The experience of the current Russo-Ukrainian War has shown that even the ambitious plan "Zrínyi 2026" is insufficient compared to the changed international balances and that Hungary must aim even higher. Hence the idea (not yet become law) to increase the number of military professionals to 80.000 units, triple the number of reservists compared to the current figure and reintroduce compulsory conscription, suspended indefinitely on November 3, 2004.

Of course, to equip this mass of potential fighters, the modernization plan also includes investments in the purchase and/or production of new armaments including: new infantry assault rifles, tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, artillery, helicopters, as well as doubling the front line of high-performance jets.

Hence, if Hungary will have the opportunity to complete its rearmament plan in the next few years and if Orbán will be able to bend even the military institutions to obedience, as he has already done with all the decision-making centers of the country, then we will have on our hands in the middle of Mitteleuropa and the Balkan peninsula an element of destabilization totally out of control and against which the political and military decision-makers at least here in Italy (because this area represents our "home garden", exactly like the Mediterranean) would do well to devise an effective containment strategy.

Photo: presidency of the republic of Turkey