Greenwood Paper Special Issue

Civil Military Relations in Hungary 1989-1996

Zoltan Pecze
82 pages, ISBN 90-76301-02-6 (2 1998)

Though Hungary has now joined NATO, in 1998 it did not have the kind of arrangements for democratic control of the armed forces that were supposed to be a qualifying condition for entry. According to the author neither the Ministry of Defence nor the General Staff had yet entirely shaken off old authoritarian habits. Despite the fact that they were less secretive than before, both remained suspicious of civilian interference in their business, above all of the legislative oversight of expenditure. Pecze illuminates his paper with striking examples: a budget contained one line item requesting 21 billion forints for expenditure on logistics, while a later entry covered 40 million forints for the traditional St. Steven's Day fireworks in Budapest; and the later attrackted more discussion than the former. Shortage of money was a principal reason why the emergence of a professional officer corps was hampered. With a better paid and more professional army public support for the country's defence would certainly be improved. Pecze argues that professionalism and public approval can develop simultaneously over the long term with the help of western institutions.

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