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Maintaining the stability and security of the Western Balkan region is a priority for Hungary and cooperation is also important for NATO and the European Union in order to stop illegal migration, Hungarian Defence Minister Tibor Benkő told MTI. Speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of EU defence ministers in Brussels, Benkő said Hungary has sealed its southern borders to protect Christian culture, and prevented all from entering its territory illegally. That is a big contribution to Europe’s war on terror, too, he said, saying that the number of terrorist attacks has grown with mass migration.

On another subject, the minister said Austria has added its signature to the letter of intent on setting up a Regional Special Operations Component Command (R-SOCC) in Hungary. By signing the letter of intent, Austria, which is not a member of NATO, joins the command’s founding countries, Hungary, Croatia, Slovakia and Slovenia, Benkő said. The command which will provide special operations training for the region’s soldiers, will be based in Szolnok, in central Hungary, he added. The minister said the partnership was an “excellent example” of how NATO and the European Union complement and strengthen each other through cooperation. The decision to set up the command in Hungary is an acknowledgement of the country’s contributions to the military alliance, he added. He said ministers at the meeting discussed EU support for the G5 Sahel, adding that the central European countries were in agreement that problems need to be resolved where they arise, rather than in Europe. Hungary will increase the number of its soldiers serving in such missions, mainly in Mali, to 20 by the end of the year, he added.