NATO enlargement: President Novák urges Parliament to make a wise decision

March 01. 2023. – 11:50 AM


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"My position is clear: in the current situation, the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO is justified. I trust that the Parliament will come to a wise decision as soon as possible." – President of the Republic Katalin Novák wrote on Facebook, referring to the fact that after a long delay of seven months, today, the Hungarian Parliament is debating the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO. In her post, the President also stated that the decision is complex and has serious consequences.

Hungary has not ratified Sweden's and Finland's NATO membership for six months, and in a radio interview last Friday, Viktor Orbán said that it should be supported in principle, and asked the Fidesz parliamentary group to do so. The prime minister added that since there was a disagreement on the issue within the governing faction at their meeting last week, Hungary will be sending a delegation to the two countries.

Speaking at a joint press conference with the Finnish Prime Minister in Helsinki, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that "it is time for the remaining member states to ratify the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO. Stoltenberg, who up until now hasn't publicly urged the countries to ratify, said progress had been made in talks with Turkey, with representatives of the Turkish, Swedish and Finnish governments due to meet in Brussels next week.

“The accession of the two countries is the common interest of us all, including Turkey and Hungary.”

- the NATO Secretary General added. The Finnish prime minister, who attended the briefing, stressed that the Hungarian parliament must also ratify NATO enlargement. According to Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin, this was also supported by Hungary, and there were no conditions for its approval. On Hungary, Jens Stoltenberg said he hoped that Budapest would give the green light "quickly".

In a video posted on Monday, Péter Szijjártó said that the Hungarian government supports the accession, and according to the Foreign Minister, this was clear. However, the support of members of the governing party's parliamentary groups is now in question. Szijjártó spoke at length about which statements by the Swedes could have been offensive to Hungarian MPs. It turned out that a negotiating delegation could visit the two countries in a week or two to settle these contentious issues, and the Foreign Minister has also discussed this with his Swedish counterpart.

28 out of 30 countries gave their approval before the end of September

The Swedes and Finns decided to give up their long-standing military independence and join NATO following the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian war. The Finns announced last May that they would formally apply to join, with the Swedes making the same announcement a day later. Both countries agreed to join within a relatively short time at the legislative level as well. At the time, the Turks made it clear that they would not ratify the application – a position that has since been refined and they have negotiated and will continue to negotiate to settle the problematic issues.

NATO, the European Union and other member states have indicated that they welcome the two countries into the alliance. The final agreement was reached at the end of June last year, ahead of the NATO summit in Madrid. It was NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg himself who announced that the way was clear for the two countries – as at the time it looked as if an agreement had been reached with the Turks. In July, the NATO ambassadors also signed the application, bringing the two countries' accession to a new chapter.

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