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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Budapest Snubs NATO

BUDAPEST -- Hungary said Thursday that it wanted NATO's AWACS aircraft out of its airspace during any air strikes in Bosnia to prevent harm to 400,000 ethnic Hungarians living in Serbia and Croatia.

Andras Kelemen, Foreign Ministry state secretary, told journalists that NATO has not sought permission for AWACS aircraft to command the attack from Hungarian airspace, but if it did the answer would be no.

Prime Minister Peter Boross said last Friday that Hungary would not want the AWACS over its territory while air strikes were carried out.

Kelemen said that Budapest was taking into consideration the safety of some 400,000 ethnic Hungarians living mainly in Vojvodina, a northern region of Serbia bordering Hungary, but also in Serbian-controlled areas of Croatia, called Krajinas.

Since October 1992 NATO has been monitoring air traffic over Bosnia from Hungarian airspace under an agreement with Budapest by using two AWACS aircraft that fly into Hungarian airspace twice a day from a German airbase, government spokeswoman Judit Juhasz said.

However, Kelemen made clear that "these AWACS planes have no license to provide support for a Bosnian air strike."