Hungary, Intelligence and Security
Part of the Empire of Austria-Hungary preceding World War I, Hungary gained its independence following the collapse of the imperial government in 1918. After World War II, the nation fell under the Soviet sphere of influence as a reluctant satellite nation. The Hungarian government endeavored to dissolve their participation in the Warsaw Pact and break ties with the Soviet Union in 1956. The action was met with Soviet military intervention in the region, and the establishment of a Soviet-influenced government.
During the Cold War, the Hungarian government maintained secret police forces and used intelligence services to conduct political espionage. Like other Soviet satellites, Hungary maintained a censorship state, but media and political controls were less strict than in many other communist nations. During the détente years of the 1980s, Hungary began to ease communist regulations, embarking on a program of democratic reforms before most other Warsaw Pact nations. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Hungary expedited its ambitious reform plan. One of the first government functionaries to be reformed in post-communist Hungary was the nation's intelligence community.
The primary civilian intelligence organization in Hungary is the National Security Office (NBH). The NBH coordinated most intelligence operations in Hungary, including the gathering and processing of both domestic and foreign intelligence information. The NBH works closely with the National Security Services (NBSzSz) to protect national interests within Hungary's borders, and provide security services for Hungarian government personnel and diplomats at home and abroad. Civilian intelligence has recently focused on the identification and eradication of organized crime syndicates. Political espionage is expressly forbidden, and actions of security forces, including national police, are subject to government review as means of restoring citizen trust in national intelligence and security forces.
In addition to civilian organizations, Hungary maintains military intelligence forces, such as the Military Security Agency (KBH) and the Military Detection Agency (KFH). Though the daily operations of these agencies are classified, the mission of Hungarian military intelligence is identification and neutralization of foreign threats to national security. Military intelligence also conducts anti-terrorism and counterintelligence operations.
Hungary joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1999. The country has petitioned to join the European Union (EU). Having already participated in European anti-terrorism, non-proliferation, and joint-intelligence operations, the Hungarian intelligence community continues to increase its technological and operational capabilities to better aid international, cooperative intelligence efforts.
█ FURTHER READING:
Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook, 2002. "Hungary." < http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/hu.html > (March 30, 2003).