Turkey and Hungary have agreed to keep defense contracts under a heavier shroud of secrecy by striking an agreement to beef up the security of classified information related to defense industry cooperation schemes between the two countries.
According to the agreement on the mutual protection of classified information in the defense industry, a copy of which was obtained by Nordic Monitor, the countries have agreed to establish procedures to ensure the security of classified data on the purchase of military equipment and arms, defense systems and spare parts, and the research, development and production of defense materiel.
The Turkish opposition objected to a specific clause inserted in Article 4 of the agreement that describes all kinds of military equipment, arms and defense materiel as covered by the agreement. They says it is a too vague and open-ended statement that would be subject to broad interpretation during implementation.
The deal is yet another sign of the growing ties between the two authoritarian governments in Europe where the rule of law and fundamental rights and freedoms have been under attack for years. After signing a high-level intergovernmental strategic dialogue agreement in 2013, the two governments started to work closely on many issues in European institutions including the Council of Europe and the European Union.
The background of the agreement was an effort by Hungary to tap into the Turkish defense industry as part of its drive to modernize its armed forces and increase its defense spending to 2 percent of GDP between 2018 and 2020. Turkish Land Forces Commander Gen. Ümit Dündar paid a visit to Hungary on April 10, 2019 during which the sale of more than 200 armored personnel carriers manufactured by Turkish defense contractor Nurol Makina was discussed.
The agreement provides that classified information can only be transmitted via diplomatic channels or a military attaché. The deal regulates how security clearances will be provided for private contractors as well as sub-contractors who do work within the scope of the countries’ defense industry cooperation. Any possible breach of security in one country will be investigated immediately and reported to the other party.
Visits to facilities involving access to classified information will take place with the written consent of the receiving state authorities.
According to a statement released by Turkish Col. Erkan Karadeniz, the agreement aims to protect the cooperation between Ankara and Budapest in secret projects and provide for the security of information with respect to such projects.
Possible disputes will not be referred to any national or international tribunal or third party for settlement as the agreement envisages that such differences will be settled through bilateral negotiations.
The agreement will be in force for five years and automatically renewed for another five years unless terminated by either party with 30 days’ advance notice through diplomatic channels.
The agreement was originally signed on November 23, 2017 in Ankara by the defense ministers of Turkey and Hungary. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sent the agreement to parliament for ratification on January 15, 2019, where it cleared the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Commission on May 22, 2019. The Hungarian government has already completed the ratification process.
The full text of the agreement is posted below:HUngary_defense_deal