Orbán's political director lists reasons for Hungary's blocking of Sweden's NATO accession

March 24. 2023. – 08:49 AM


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Balázs Orbán, the Hungarian Prime Minister's political director explained on Twitter Thursday evening why Hungary is reluctant to approve Sweden's NATO membership application. The tweet was a direct reaction to Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson's demand for answers on Thursday after Hungary decided to separate Sweden's and Finland's NATO membership applications.

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The political director basically lists the same reasons that Fidesz politicians have already given: the problem for the governing party's MPs is that in the past, Sweden's leaders have repeatedly expressed concerns about the direction of political developments in Hungary, and have even said that it was time for the EU to take tougher action against the Hungarian government. Viktor Orbán had reportedly called for support of the Finnish-Swedish NATO membership in February, at a meeting of the Fidesz-KDNP parliamentary group, but there was a debate about it within the group, with several MEPs "raising questions" about the threat of escalation and past "insults" of Hungary.

The sentences which caused offence, have now been quoted by the Prime Minister's Political Director in a tweet:

  • “For the EU, large parts of the job still remain to break the development in Hungary, to put pressure on the Hungarian government and to support the increasingly strong opposition.” (3 March 2021 – Ulf Kristersson (then leader of the Moderate Party, now Prime Minister)
  • “It is now required that the EU act clearly and that the new conditionality mechanism stops payments to Hungary.” (30 June 2021 – Jessika Roswall (then EU spokesperson of the Moderate Party, now Minister for EU Affairs)
  • „Hungary’s xenophobic and nationalist government continues to violate the principle of rule of law and wavers in supporting Ukraine.” (10 May 2022 – Johan Pehrson (then leader of the Liberal Party, now Minister for Employment and Integration)

Viktor Orbán's political director thus makes it clear that the majority in the Hungarian parliament is holding back Swedish accession to NATO because of statements made by Swedish politicians on other issues, that are critical of the current Hungarian government. In contrast, the vote on Finland's accession will be voted on in Parliament early next week. Balázs Orbán concludes his post with saying: "Good morning, Stockholm!".

The continued wrangling is somewhat interesting after a Hungarian parliamentary delegation visited both countries in March with the aim of resolving the differences. At the end of the diplomatic program, the delegation's leader, Csaba Hende, said that they were satisfied and supported Sweden's accession to NATO, but added that they had asked the Swedes "to stop saying that there is no rule of law in Hungary".

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