On 8 May 2018 retired Lieutenant General Frederick Ben Hodges, the former Commanding General of United States Army Europe who currently holds the Pershing Chair in Strategic Studies at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) held a public lecture entitled „Strategic Challenges on NATO’s Eastern Flank” at the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade. The event was opened by Ambassador Márton Schőberl, Director of IFAT, and featured Jenő Megyesy, Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister of Hungary. The conversation was moderated by Márton Ugrósdy, Deputy Director for Strategy of IFAT.
Following the welcoming remarks of H.E. Márton Schőberl, Lt. Gen. Hodges focused on three main topics in his lecture, i.e. the relationship between the US and Europe, the cooperation between the EU and NATO, as well as the challenges NATO has to face internally. Regarding the first issue, Lt. Gen. Hodges highlighted that Europe is one of the biggest supporters of the US, thus maintaining a good relationship is of crucial importance.
When talking about the establishment of an EU Army and the importance of military expenditure, he stressed the role of the US in encouraging cooperation with the EU. While he welcomed the idea of infrastructure developments within NATO, he underscored that many of the current processes to procure military equipment lack transparency and are at odds with the interests of the US defense industry.
As for the challenges within NATO, Lt. Gen. Hodges touched upon the changing nature of Russia’s role from a partner to a threat, while he also elaborated on the necessary institutional reforms. The questions from the audience covered topics such as the problems of NATO’s eastern borders, the possible militarization of the Schengen Area, the role of Hungary within NATO vis-á-vis Ukraine, as well as Hungary’s position in Russia’s geostrategy.