The Foreign Policy Strategy of Hungary adopted in 2011 (MFA 2011) serves as a fundamental document providing guidance for foreign policy activities, including responses to crises, in both geographical and horizontal terms. However, it does not contain any explicit reference to a WGA.
The National Security Strategy (NSS) (MFA 2012: Art. 43) adopted in 2012 points to the requirement of “a comprehensive, whole of government approach” to comprehensively manage the threats mentioned in the strategy, and it tasks all government institutions “to continuously evaluate in their own area of responsibility the elements of national and international security and exposure to threats, and to take steps necessary to manage and avert them.” What’s more, it specifically states the need to apply a WGA (“government-wide coordination”) in the field of international cooperation. The ensuing articles of the strategy tackle the issues of cooperation in the fields of civil-military cooperation, development and multilateral collaboration. At the same time, however, the document does not provide any guidance for establishing specific structures and mechanisms dedicated to the type of WGA it calls for. Nevertheless, a number of specific strategies based on the NSS have been prepared in some ministries (e.g. the Ministry of Defence), and these have further strengthened the coordinated governmental approach.
At present, the most significant legal document that ensures coherence and coordination in addition to setting up structures and mechanisms for intra-governmental cooperation is Governmental Resolution 1144/2010 (VII.7.) on the “operation of the government”. The document designates the Conference of State Secretaries for Administration as the highest governmental structure. The conference convenes once a week to prepare documents in a coherent and coordinated manner for the government’s decision-making process, and it also sets on its agenda the issues related to foreign affairs, including governmental responses to crises and conflicts. In this context, proposals are mainly submitted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT). As a general rule, the MFAT reaches agreements about the proposals with the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Interior as well as with other relevant ministries prior to the submission of documents.
A similarly important decision-making channel aimed at ensuring a coherent governmental approach is established by Governmental Resolution 1007/2004 (II.12.) on “harmonization of the participation of the government in the decision-making activities of the European Union” and its updated versions, 1169/2010 (VII.18.) and 1742/2014 (XII.15.). These documents set up structures, rules and mechanisms for a WGA to all EU policies, including the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP).
Governmental Resolution 152/2014, which stipulates that the minister of the Prime Minister’s Office is responsible for coordinating and harmonising WGA activities, should be considered another legal tool reflecting the efforts of different parts of the government to act in concert.
Regarding legislation related to Hungary’s WGA, Governmental Resolution 1682/2014 (XI.26.) established the Interdepartmental Committee for Coordination of International Development Cooperation, which plays a key role in coordinating governmental activities in the fields of development and humanitarian aid.
Turning briefly to structural changes aimed at facilitating a WGA, in 2014, the portfolio of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was expanded to include international trade, energy and international investments. One of the aims of this change was to better concentrate governmental efforts and activities in the domain of external relations.
A regulation adopted on 3 July 2018 regarding the structure and operation of the Prime Minister’s Office is the latest legal document to expand the domains of governmental coordination through the establishment of the State Secretariat for the Aid of Persecuted Christians and the Hungary Helps Program within the Prime Minister’s Office (cf. Hungarian Government n.d.). The Hungary Helps Program is tasked with coordinating all of Hungary’s bilateral humanitarian aid activities as well as with participating in the implementation of the Hungarian international development policies and multilateral humanitarian aid efforts when the MFAT is in the lead. Both structures enable the government to respond to some global security challenges (e.g. migration) in a coherent manner.
The International Development Cooperation Strategy and Strategic Concept for International Humanitarian Aid of Hungary for the 2014–2020 period (Hungarian Government 2013), which was adopted in 2013, constitutes a solid basis for Hungarian governmental and non-governmental structures to work together in a coordinated manner in the field of development and humanitarian aid. The MFAT bears primary responsibility for its implementation.
The Western Balkans, the eastern and southern neighbourhoods of Hungary, the post-Soviet states as well as the Middle East and North Africa are the regions where Hungary seeks to play a proactive role in contributing to regional stability, settling conflicts and supporting democratic processes. For obvious reasons, though to different degrees, the stability of these regions has impacts on the security of Hungary. The 2014–2020 development strategy (ibid.) also gives priority to the sub-Saharan region and some underdeveloped states in Asia. What’s more, protecting the rights of Hungarian minorities in the neighbourhood plays a significant role when shaping relations with adjacent countries.
When it comes to regions farther away from Hungary, the country’s key priorities are migration, the positions of local Christian communities, and the stabilisation of security situations in the theatre. These have been the main guiding principles of Hungary’s positions when discussing the common EU stances in areas such as Egypt, Libya, Mali and the Sahel. For example, the Hungarian Red Cross and the Prime Minister’s Office have cooperated in efforts to provide humanitarian aid in Iraq. Furthermore, since the Hungarian government views halting illegal migration flows and countering hybrid threats as external challenges of vital importance to the country’s internal security, it pays specific attention to these risks.
The aforementioned criteria have also been the main guiding principles when it comes to Hungary’s positions on elaborating common EU policies and activities as well as on Hungary’s contributions to efforts to settle crisis situations. These have included the launch of CSDP- or NATO-led missions, such as Operation Althea in Bosnia-Herzegovina, NATO’s IFOR in Kosovo, the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan as well as the EUMM in Georgia. The MFAT usually assumes the leading position when it comes to coordination and cooperation with the concerned governmental bodies (e.g. the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Interior), and these effort have functioned smoothly to date.
Cooperation between the government and the National Assembly is regulated by Act XXXVI of 2012 (National Assembly 2012: Sections 62–68) and Act 10/2014 of the National Assembly (National Assembly 2014: Section 140). Government Resolution 1742/2014 (XII.15.) regulates cooperation between the government and the National Assembly, including when it comes to foreign and EU affairs. At present, Government Resolution 1742/2014 (XII.15.) regulates cooperation between the government and the National Assembly, which is the main body responsible for the supervision of governmental activities in EU affairs.