ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A delegation led by Chief of Staff of Hungary’s defense Ferenc Korom on Wednesday met with Kurdish Peshmerga officials in Erbil to discuss his country’s military support to the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region.
Accompanied by Hungary’s Ambassador to Iraq Attila Tar and Consul-General in Erbil Miklos Szabo, the delegation visited their military advisers at Peshmerga training camps on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, they met with the deputy Peshmerga Minister, Sarbast Lazgin, and other officials to discuss the needs of the Kurdish forces following the military defeat of the Islamic State (IS), which Iraq had announced in late 2017.
Kurdistan 24 asked Korom at a press conference about IS’ ongoing activities in the disputed territories.
“I cannot say there is a main solution to the problem… What I can say is that we shall continue our cooperation and that is the reason that our parliament made a decision that we will continue to deploy our Hungarian soldiers into” the Kurdistan Region, he responded. “We will continue to train the Peshmerga forces.”
He mentioned that Hungary is engaged in a stabilization effort across Iraq because the situation has had an impact on Hungary as illegal migrants flee from Iraq to his country.
The second reason is to defeat IS, he added, this is certainly “why we are actively participating in the [US-led] coalition.”
Korom noted that Hungary would not only continue to train Peshmerga forces in the Kurdistan Region but also take the injured Kurdish fighters to Budapest for medical treatment.
He said Hungary would increase the presence of its soldiers and trainers in the Kurdistan Region upward to 200 in the new year.
Regarding Hungary’s arms supply to the Kurdistan Region, Korom stated that over the past few years, Hungary has provided about 250 tons of weapons and ammunition to Peshmerga in the fight against IS.
“During our meetings, we talked about it, and Hungary will continue” to supply Peshmerga with arms and ammunition, he said.
Before the press conference, the Kurdish and Hungarian officials participated in an art exhibition where stones from the Kurdistan Region and Hungary were decorated and placed next to each other as a symbol of friendship between Erbil and Budapest.
The arrival of the Hungarian delegation comes after Peshmerga officials visited Budapest last month to request the European member to continue its support for the Kurdish region.
Hungary’s envoy in Iraq, meanwhile, told Kurdistan 24 his country seeks to develop equal relations with Erbil and Baghdad.
“We try not to be biased to any of the two sides,” Tar said. “This is why we have separate independent missions in Baghdad and Erbil.”
He mentioned that in addition to military ties, Hungary also aims to develop its relations with the Kurdistan Region and Iraq in terms of culture, education, and trade.
Jabar Yawar, the Secretary-General of the Peshmerga Ministry, explained that during the meeting, they requested Hungary to continue to treat wounded Peshmerga, support Germany in building a Peshmerga military hospital in Erbil, take Peshmerga to Hungary so they can study medicine at universities, and continue to provide arms and ammunition to the Kurdish forces.
Peshmerga forces have been one of the most effective ground troops in the fight against IS over the past few years.
Since 2014, over 1,700 Peshmerga have fallen while fighting the militant group and more than 10,000 were wounded, according to the Peshmerga Ministry.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
(Additional reporting by Blessa Shaweys)