Hungary joined NATO in March 1999, thanks to the positive outcome of a very popular referendum. The enlargement, which took place with Poland and the Czech Republic, is the result of a cooperation process started in the first half of the 1990s and culminated with the Hungarian participation in the missions of the Atlantic Alliance in Bosnia-Herzegovina, through the deployment of a small contingent military and opening their bases to coalition troops. For Hungary defense and foreign policy, please check relationshipsplus.com.
Hungarian military participation in international peacekeeping missions, however, it was not limited to NATO alone. In addition to the enrollment of 157 soldiers in the European Union Defense Force (Eufor) and participation in the UN mission in Cyprus, Hungary supported the US engagement in Afghanistan and Iraq (2003) through the opening to the allied troops of the Taszar air base, located in the south-central region of the country, and of the airspace of its territory. In June of the same year, 300 soldiers of the Hungarian army were also sent to Iraq for operations of control and maintenance of order. Withdrawn troops at the end of 2004, 150 Hungarian soldiers returned to Iraq again as part of a NATO mission in June 2005, only to be definitively withdrawn the following year.
Hungary facing the refugee emergency
The decision of the Orbán government, in the summer of 2015 to have a wall built along the 175 km of the border shared with Serbia in order to limit the number of immigrants and asylum seekers in the country and to block the overall flow of illegal immigrants arriving in Western Europe via the Balkan route, it created tensions with Belgrade and the entire Balkan neighborhood. The decision, which was in fact followed by that of erecting a protective barrier also on the border with Croatia and Slovenia, as well as extending the existing one with Romania, is based on the proposal of the mayor of Ásotthalom – a town on the Serbian border -, Laszlo Toroskay, who had already launched the idea of creating a fence along the Serbian border in 2014. The motorway section between the Horgos and Rozske passes, on the border with Serbia, it was temporarily closed, just as the Austrian railways blocked the transit of trains to and from Hungary for a few days. Along with the establishment of a state of emergency in some southern Hungarian provinces, by virtue of which the security forces have been invested with special powers in border control, the Orbán government has enacted a reform of the penal code which includes more restrictive measures for anyone who enters the country illegally and damages the metal barriers. In September, Hungary, together with the Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia, also voted against the EU plan for the relocation of the Twenty-eight of 120,000 refugees. According to the Hungarian Department of Immigration, there were about 57 in the first months of 2015. 000 people from Afghanistan, Syria and Pakistan to have illegally crossed Hungarian borders. In 2014 Budapest welcomed more than 43,000 migrants (only in 2012 there were just 2000).