Budapest must ratify Sweden’s NATO application “very quickly,” an official has said, according to the news outlet
Germany is pressing the Hungarian government to ratify Sweden’s bid for NATO membership, with a senior official telling Politico that approval is “a matter of loyalty to the alliance.” Hungary’s ruling party boycotted a ratification vote on Monday.
Hungary is the only NATO member yet to approve Sweden’s application to join the US-led military bloc. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban gave his Fidesz party the go-ahead last month to vote on ratification, but the party – which holds a sizable parliamentary majority – refused to attend a vote on Monday. Unless a special session of parliament is called in the meantime, another vote will not be held until the legislature reconvenes on February 26.
“We believe that it is now a matter of loyalty to the alliance and, more generally, of friendly behavior between EU states that this should happen very quickly,” a senior German official told reporters in Berlin on Tuesday, according to Politico.
The official did not elaborate on whether Berlin was pressuring Budapest behind the scenes. However, the report comes a week after Orban accused his fellow EU leaders – including German Chancellor Olaf Scholz – of “blackmailing” him by threatening to crash the Hungarian economy unless he supports a €50 billion ($54 billion) aid package for Ukraine.
The Hungarian leader has repeatedly butted heads with Brussels over the EU’s policy on Ukraine, arguing that sanctions against Moscow harm the bloc’s economy more than Russia’s. Orban has also insisted that Kiev will not be able to defeat Moscow militarily, and that as “one of the most corrupt countries in the world,” Ukraine is in no position to join the EU.
However, Fidesz’ opposition to Sweden’s NATO membership stems from a long-running dispute between Stockholm and Budapest. Sweden has supported the EU’s withholding of funds from Hungary over Orban’s hardline immigration policies and conservative stance on LGBTQ issues, while Stockholm joined the European Commission’s legal case against Hungary’s Child Protection Law last year. The legislation, which forbids depictions of homosexuality or gender reassignment in media content aimed at under-18s, has been criticized by other EU members as ant-LGBTQ.
In a statement on Monday, Fidesz said its members would support Sweden’s NATO bid, but only after meeting with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson.
Kristersson has expressed his willingness to make the trip, but stated he would only do so after his country’s NATO application was approved, leaving it unclear how Fidesz will proceed.
The German official said that “such visits between EU partners are quite normal, but they should not be linked in this way.”