The central topics of the Bucharest Nine (B9) Summit in Bratislava were the conflict in Ukraine and its consequences, as well as the security issues affecting the Central European region. In a joint press briefing after the meeting, the participants of the forum expressed their intention to continue supporting Ukraine and emphasised the importance of maintaining a common stance on this matter. They also highlighted the necessity of strengthening the eastern flank of NATO and raised the possibility of increasing defence expenditures in member countries in connection with this goal.
After the meeting of the B9 presidents, representing NATO member states from Central and Eastern Europe, President Katalin Novák emphasised the commitment of the group to further support Ukraine and,
above all, to restore peace.
The B9 meeting, attended in person by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, and through a video message by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, focused on strengthening Europe’s security and stability. During the meeting, the Bucharest Nine adopted a joint pro-Ukraine and pro-peace statement.
Katalin Novák highlighted the inexplicable, brutal, and tragic attacks on civilians in Ukraine.
She recalled that she had expressed her personal sympathy to the Ukrainian people, as the majority of her foreign counterparts, during her previous visit to Ukraine. The Hungarian President added that the statement adopted on Tuesday condemns Russia’s unjustifiable attack and recognises Ukraine’s right to self-defence. The B9 countries must remain prepared to provide humanitarian assistance, she noted, adding that Hungary has received two million refugees from Ukraine since the beginning of the war.
Katalin Novák also emphasised the importance of considering Ukraine’s future. The B9 countries should be present in Ukraine during the post-war reconstruction and beyond. However, it is important not to make unrealistic promises. She stressed that it is crucial for Ukraine
to make military decisions based on realistic expectations.
The Hungarian President stated that the B9 countries support offering a perspective for Ukraine’s NATO membership and also advocate for the alliance’s policy of ‘open doors.’
To achieve NATO and EU membership, Ukraine is encouraged to continue with further reforms, including the respect for minority rights, she added. The President also drew attention to the importance of stability in the Western Balkans, as it is a fundamental condition for the stability of the whole of Europe.
She reminded that Hungary is geographically located between two crisis zones, and that recently, several Hungarian soldiers were injured in the Kosovo riots while participating in the KFOR mission.
After the meeting, Jens Stoltenberg highlighted his fruitful discussion with President Katalin Novák on his Twitter account, referring to Hungary as a ‘valued ally.’
President Novák also reminded on social media that Hungary has a vested interest in a strong NATO and exceeds its commitment by spending 2 per cent of its GDP on defence.