Hungary President’s Surprise Support for Sweden’s NATO Bid

( – In May of 2022, Sweden officially applied for membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which is more commonly referred to as NATO. First founded on April 4, 1949 with only 12 founding countries, NATO has added many new members over the years, most recently Finland on April 4, 2023. Sweden will require formal approval from all 31 member states to be accepted into NATO, and with Turkey’s long delayed approval on Tuesday January 23, only Hungary remains to accede.

Officially, Hungary supports Sweden’s NATO acceptance but has yet to bring it to a parliamentary vote. The Hungarian parliament isn’t currently in session, but there has been pressure to resolve the matter as soon as possible. Hungary’s Socialist party stated they intend to force a vote on the matter with an extraordinary parliamentary session to approve it. However, on Thursday January 25, Hungary’s parliamentary speaker Laszlo Kover, a founding member of the conservative majority party Fidesz, remarked that he doesn’t feel there is “any particular urgency” to approve Sweden’s accession to NATO and believes attempts to convene a special session will fail.

Kover also commented that he doesn’t personally support Sweden’s NATO membership. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, also a member of the Fidesz party, issued an invitation to Prime Minister of Sweden Ulf Kristersson to visit Hungary through the Hungarian Prime Minister’s press chief on Tuesday January 23 in order to discuss Sweden’s NATO accession and the strengthening of bilateral relations between their countries in person. Prime Minister Kristersson at first replied in the affirmative, but then reversed his decision saying that there was nothing to discuss.

Prime Minister Orbán had initially said he did not intend Hungary to be the last country to agree to Sweden’s admission to NATO, but with Turkey’s approval on Tuesday January 23 it looks like they are. Since Sweden’s Prime Minister pulled out of the proposed visit to Hungary, Orbán told NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg during a call that he supports Sweden’s bid and that Hungary’s parliament will be voting yes on issue at their first opportunity. Whether this means they will be arranging an urgent extraordinary parliamentary session or if he intends to wait until their normal scheduled session remains to be seen.

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