NewsHungary's Fidesz party delays vote on Sweden's NATO membership, sparking tensions

Hungary's Fidesz party delays vote on Sweden's NATO membership, sparking tensions

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban
Images source: © Getty Images | Janos Kummer
9:09 AM EST, February 5, 2024

On Monday, Hungarian opposition representatives called for a special parliamentary session. The goal was to ratify Sweden's joining of NATO quickly. However, representatives from the dominant coalition, specifically Fidesz and the Christian Democratic People's Party, decided not to participate in the Monday meeting.

"In our opinion, the ratification of Sweden's NATO membership could occur during the commencement of a standard parliamentary session, but a meeting between both countries' prime ministers in Budapest is required. If the Swedes view the membership as significant, they will come here, just as they did to Turkey," Fidesz faction leader Máté Kocsis wrote on his Facebook page.

Nonetheless, representatives from other countries attempted to pressure the ruling party. Ambassadors from NATO nations, including Poland, the United States, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Norway, Denmark, and Estonia, attended the parliamentary session.

Due to the empty government and ruling party seats during the meeting, a quorum for ratification could not be reached. Opposition MPs made a few remarks, denouncing the delay by Fidesz as shameful and claiming it favoured Russia.

For several months, Hungary pledged not to be the last NATO member to ratify Sweden's alliance membership. Despite this, the reverse occurred when even Turkey, previously hesitant about Stockholm, voted for Sweden's NATO accession at the end of January.

Orban's reluctance

Before the vote in the Turkish parliament, Viktor Orban unsuccessfully attempted to coax Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson into accession discussions. However, the Swedish government did not see the purpose. Both leaders met in Brussels during the recent EU summit, yet reports show that NATO was not a topic of discussion. Kristersson, while willing to visit Budapest, insists this should only occur post-ratification.

The Orban government presented a project related to Sweden's NATO accession as far back as July 2022. Despite this, the parliament has not addressed it in over a year and a half.

Currently, the Orban government is involved in a three-day meeting in Sopronbánfalva, where the Swedish issue is suspected to be a topic of discussion.

As highlighted by the media, the following standard session of the Hungarian parliament will be held on February 26th. Speaker László Kövér does not perceive the Swedish issue as urgent for Hungary.

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