Hungary's Viktor Orban reaffirms support for Sweden's entry into NATO

Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban voiced his approval of Sweden's entry into NATO on Wednesday. File Photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI
Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban voiced his approval of Sweden's entry into NATO on Wednesday. File Photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Wednesday reaffirmed his approval of Sweden's bid to join NATO as the final holdout standing in the way of its membership.

Orban said he spoke with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday to stress that his government "will continue to urge the Hungarian National Assembly to vote in favor of Sweden's accession and conclude the ratification at the first possible opportunity."


"I reaffirmed that the Hungarian government supports the NATO membership of Sweden," he said.

Hungary's legislature must still approve Sweden's admission for it to join the alliance. The measure, however, still faces opposition from members of Orban's Fidesz party who have withheld their vote for approval over Stockholm's criticism of Budapest's state of democracy and Orban's friendly relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Constant political attacks on Hungary by the Swedish political media and NGO elite raised concerns among Hungarian MPs," Orban's political director Balazs Orban, told The Guardian. "For this reason we have repeatedly asked the Swedish government to engage in political consultations by visiting Hungary. Unfortunately, despite high-level Hungarian delegations visiting Stockholm, our requests have been repeatedly declined."


He added, however, that Hungary takes its "NATO membership and military commitments very seriously" and that the government "supports Sweden's accession to NATO."

The prime minister's call with Stoltenberg came after he invited the Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson to Hungary to negotiate it's entry into NATO but Tobias Billstrom, Sweden's foreign minister, threw cold water on the offer.

"I see no reason to negotiate at this point," Billstrom said. "What we hope, of course, is that Hungary will ratify membership as soon as possible."

Orban faces pressure for Hungary to approve the the Turkish General Assembly voted in favor of Sweden's membership. The vote in Turkey was one of Sweden's biggest hurdles because of past concerns among lawmakers there about Stockholm's handling of anti-Muslim sentiment.

"It is now high time for Hungary to conclude the remaining steps so that we can welcome our Swedish friends to the alliance," Germany's foreign office said.

The developments put Sweden on the doorstep into joining the military alliance, which they have sought since April 2022 after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Sweden and Finland, which both share a border with Russia, had sought the admission because of Moscow's military action.


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