Hungary questions Sweden's commitment to NATO bid

Sweden's approach towards NATO membership appears to be lukewarm, as stated by an aide to Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Thursday.

Publication: 18.01.2024 - 15:10
Hungary questions Sweden's commitment to NATO bid
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The aide emphasized that Sweden has not shown any significant effort to strengthen trust in its suitability for NATO membership, giving an impression that joining the alliance is not a top priority for the country.

Sweden applied for NATO membership in May 2022 following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. However, the process, needing approval from all current members, has faced delays primarily due to objections from Turkey and Hungary.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's administration, known for its nationalist stance, has stalled the ratification process in the Hungarian parliament for over a year. Orban's government argues that there is no immediate security threat to Sweden and has criticized Sweden for what it describes as baseless allegations against Hungary's democratic integrity.

Gergely Gulyas, Orban's chief of staff, in a briefing, highlighted that Sweden's actions do not align with the expected trust-building measures between potential allies and friends. "Legally, this relationship is one of allies, but it lacks the essence of friendship. Hence, I must conclude that Sweden is not eager to expedite its NATO membership," he said.

The Swedish Foreign Ministry has not yet responded to these comments.

Gulyas further suggested that direct communication between Sweden's foreign minister or prime minister and the Hungarian parliament could address the concerns regarding Sweden's NATO bid.

In response to a question, Gulyas expressed Hungary's intention to avoid being the last to ratify Sweden's NATO membership. However, he indicated that Sweden's active involvement is crucial: "Why should it be a priority for us if it doesn't seem to be one for Sweden?"

Despite maintaining close relations with Moscow amid the Ukraine conflict, Orban's government has assured that Hungary will not be the final holdout in approving Sweden's NATO application. The Hungarian parliament, currently on a winter break, is expected to resume work around mid-February.

Meanwhile, the Turkish parliament is anticipated to discuss Sweden's NATO membership in the upcoming weeks, as stated by the parliamentary group chairman of Turkey's ruling AK Party.