The presence of Hungarian troops in the Balkans is a key national interest of Hungary, Defence Minister Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky told Hungarian public media from Kosovo on Tuesday. Stability in the Western Balkans determines the security of the entire region, including Hungary, the minister said in connection with NATO’s KFOR peacekeeping mission in Kosovo. Szalay-Bobrovniczky highlighted the importance of the KFOR mission having been led by a Hungarian commander for one year. The minister praised the service of the Hungarian troops, which he said was a “great success” both locally and internationally. He said the situation in Kosovo was calm, but memories of the war 20 years ago still lingered. The wounds inflicted by the war are still causing tensions, which is why the peacekeeping mission carries a great responsibility, Szalay-Bobrovniczky said. He noted that the KFOR mission will soon have a new commander, but the deputy commander will be Hungarian. The minister emphasised the importance of the presence of “Hungarian military excellence” in the mission, saying it helped with boosting the military’s readiness. Szalay-Bobrovniczky said Hungarian soldiers were expected to be committed in their service, and received all the support they needed from the government. Troop salaries are being raised by at least 26% in every area, and every Hungarian soldier will have modern, quality, safe and comfortable personal equipment by the middle of next year, he said.