Hungarian government will only support Sweden's NATO accession if Swedish Prime Minister or Foreign Minister comes to Budapest, Szabad Európa reports
September 18. 2023. – 04:16 PM
The Hungarian government continues to expect either Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson or Foreign Minister Tobias Billström to come to Budapest and meet with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán or Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó before Sweden's NATO accession is voted on by the National Assembly, a person identified as a "senior government source" who wished to remain anonymous told Szabad Európa. According to the source, the government would like the Hungarian side to have the chance to express that "there is absolutely no problem with democracy and human rights in Hungary". The government also wants the Swedish partner to take note of this.
Therefore, until this happens, not only will the Hungarian parliament not vote on Sweden's NATO membership in the autumn, but the ratification is farther than ever before.
According to the source, a bilateral meeting with similar content somewhere else, for example in the context of an EU summit, might be considered as a "minimally acceptable arrangement", but the Hungarian government clearly prefers having the meeting in Budapest. "Anyone who knows the Swedes and Swedish diplomacy will know that such an expectation will never be met. Specifically because they are aware that this is an expectation toward them, and because in their view there's no basis for it, and they don't make empty gestures," the diplomat told the paper.
We have contacted the Foreign Ministry's press office with our questions and will report back when they respond.
Speaking on Hungarian TV channel Hír TV, House Speaker László Kövér earlier said:
“What the Swedes are doing to their own country is a clear indication that they don't love their country, in fact they downright hate it, because if they didn't hate it, they wouldn't be destroying it.”
As we reported in detail on Telex, the Hungarian government has been sitting on Sweden's NATO membership application for a year due to having been "insulted" but it seems they were actually waiting on Erdoğan. Sweden and Finland decided last May, following the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian war, to give up their long-standing military independence and join NATO.
At last year's NATO summit, it seemed only a matter of months before both countries, both of which are militarily strong, would become members of the alliance. In June last year, it was finally announced that the way to NATO was now open for both Sweden and Finland.
For the decision to be finalised, it must be approved by the parliaments of all member countries. During the summer months of 2022, almost all countries from the United States to Slovakia ratified the decision, with 28 out of 30 countries approving the two applications for membership within a short time. If it had been up to this majority, both Scandinavian countries could have become full members of the military alliance by the end of last September. But for some reason, Hungary and Turkey have delayed the decision. We summarised the reasons in this article.
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