Commander of Hungarian Defence Forces Romulusz Ruszin-Szendi relieved of his duties by President Novák

April 27. 2023. – 12:48 PM


Commander of Hungarian Defence Forces Romulusz Ruszin-Szendi relieved of his duties by President Novák
President Katalin Novák is received with a military salute, flanked by Lieutenant General Romulusz Ruszin-Szendi, Commander of the Hungarian Defence Forces, at the Ministry of Defence on 31 May 2022 – Photo by Szilárd Koszticsák / MTI


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On Thursday, at the proposal of the Minister of Defence, Hungarian President Katalin Novák relieved Lieutenant General Ruszin-Szendi Romulusz, Commander of the Hungarian Defence Forces, from his post with immediate effect. This was published in the Hungarian Gazette on Thursday.

Romulusz Ruszin-Szendi, born in 1973, was appointed commander of the Hungarian Defence Forces in 2021 by János Áder, and was the youngest person to have held this post. Before that, from 2019 to 31 March 2020, he was head of the office of the former Defence Minister, and from 1 April 2020 to May 2021 he was deputy state secretary for human resources policy at the Ministry of Defence.

His dismissal seems surprising because, for instance, just a few days ago he was in Székesfehérvár discussing the future of the relationship between the city and the Hungarian Defence Forces with the town's mayor, Fidesz's András Cser-Palkovics, and a few weeks ago he was a guest a the pro government Hír TV, where, among other things, he spoke about the plans of the Defence Forces.

The Defence Minister is proposing Lieutenant General Gábor Böröndi, head of the Hungarian Defence Forces' NATO and EU Military Representative Office in Brussels, for the job, the ministry said.

According to the Ministry of Defence, Gábor Böröndi, a rifleman by training, has served in various command posts in the Hungarian Defence Forces during his 30-year career, and has also participated in NATO operations in Europe and beyond. "Lieutenant General Böröndi is a Hungarian general with the broadest command and military leadership background and NATO field experience, and is the former Deputy Chief of General Staff," the statement reads.

The new chief of staff is a graduate of the US and NATO General Staff Academies. He currently heads Hungary's military representation to NATO and the EU, based in Brussels. According to the ministry, his priority as the new Commander will be to continue to change the organisational culture of the Defence Forces and "to develop a modern, capable Hungarian Defence Forces capable of demonstrating a serious deterrent force".

Lieutenant General Böröndi – Photo: Attila Balázs / MTI
Lieutenant General Böröndi – Photo: Attila Balázs / MTI

The ministry's statement also said that Lieutenant General Ruszin-Szendi "will continue to serve his country in another field".

The dismissal of the Commander of the Defence Forces is not the only major personnel change in the Hungarian Defence Forces. Earlier this year, Minister of Defence, Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky admitted in an interview with Bloomberg that he had dismissed several senior military leaders. He justified this by saying that he wanted to introduce performance-based competition in the defence forces.

The basis for the mass dismissal of senior officers was provided by a government decree in January this year. It allowed the minister to unilaterally terminate the service of certain soldiers who had reached the age of 45 and had at least 25 years of actual service, and to do so with a two-month notice period. Some saw this as a de-NATOisation, others as a common-sense reform.

Opposition politicians say the measure was intended to weaken the country's Western orientation and to fill the army with politically committed people. Szalay-Bobrovniczky rejected the criticism, saying the changes were long overdue, as the army has been overburdened by the increasing number of leaders, while at the same time there are some 8-10,000 job vacancies.

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