NewsHungary ratifies Sweden's NATO entry, marking a surprising policy shift

Hungary ratifies Sweden's NATO entry, marking a surprising policy shift

Swedish soldiers on maneuvers in Finland
Swedish soldiers on maneuvers in Finland
Images source: © PAP | Anders Wiklund
12:22 PM EST, March 5, 2024

This landmark decision was Sulyok's first act in office following his inauguration on Tuesday. He succeeded Katalin Novak, whose tenure ended amid controversies over a pardoning case linked to the concealment of pedophilia.

Sweden's bid to join NATO had been on hold, awaiting a parliamentary vote since July 2022. Finally, on Monday, February 26, the Hungarian National Assembly gave the green light, with 188 out of 198 members voting in favor, welcoming Sweden as the 32nd North Atlantic Treaty Organization member and concluding the Alliance's unanimous ratification process.

Despite the approval, analysis reveals that Hungary’s stance throughout Sweden's application process might not have yielded any tangible benefits for the country. Andras Racz, a Hungarian international politics expert from the think tank DGAP, highlighted the stark difference between Hungary's approach and Turkey's. Unlike Turkey, which managed to negotiate specific demands in exchange for consent, Hungary appears to have gained nothing from its prolonged obstruction of Sweden's NATO accession.

Racz pointed out the lack of clarity around Hungary's reasons for the blockade, noting even high-ranking officials were perplexed, attributing the decision directly to Orban. He emphasized that Hungary, opposite to Turkey's result-oriented negotiations, failed to articulate any demands, leaving it without any concessions or benefits from the extended negotiation period.

The blockade has been criticized for lacking precise demands or objectives and damaging Hungary's reputation within NATO. Racz highlighted the initial critiques from Budapest regarding Swedish democracy and calls for more respect from Stockholm, yet such demands were never concretely defined, leading to questionable outcomes.

In essence, Hungary's prolonged hesitation to ratify Sweden's NATO membership reflects a complex interplay of political decisions, with critics arguing it resulted in no substantial gains for Hungary, instead potentially tarnishing its standing within the international alliance.
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