February 26, 2024

Hungarian Prime Minister Invites Swedish Counterpart for Talks on NATO Accession Amid Delays

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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has extended an invitation to his Swedish counterpart, Ulf Kristersson, to discuss Sweden’s accession into the NATO military alliance. Orbán announced the invitation in a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, emphasizing the importance of a “more intensive political dialogue” to strengthen mutual trust between the two nations.

Despite widespread support within NATO for Sweden’s membership bid, Hungary and Turkey remain the only member countries yet to ratify Sweden’s accession into the alliance. NATO requires unanimous approval from all member nations for admission, and delays in Budapest and Ankara have sparked frustration among allies, particularly in the context of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Orbán, known for his right-wing populist stance and a somewhat reserved approach to supporting neighboring Ukraine, has repeatedly assured that Hungary would not be the last NATO member to ratify Sweden’s bid. The invitation to Kristersson reflects Orbán’s commitment to addressing the outstanding matter and facilitating discussions on the alliance’s expansion.

While Turkey has made progress in approving Sweden’s accession protocol, Orbán’s Fidesz party lawmakers have expressed reservations, citing concerns over what Orbán referred to as “blatant lies” by Swedish politicians regarding Hungary’s democracy. The Hungarian leader did not specify the redress required from Stockholm to address these reservations.

In his letter to Kristersson, Orbán proposed engaging in discussions that could contribute to “reinforcing the mutual trust” between Hungary and Sweden. The invitation underscores the need for a constructive dialogue on “future cooperation in the field of security and defense as allies and partners.”

Sweden, along with Finland, abandoned its longstanding neutrality and sought NATO membership following heightened security concerns in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Finland secured NATO membership last year after Hungary and Turkey ratified its bid.

As Hungary’s parliament is not scheduled to convene until February 26, the invitation signals a potential opportunity for diplomatic discussions between Orbán and Kristersson to address the outstanding NATO accession issue and explore avenues for future cooperation in the realm of security and defense.

Global Desk

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