The Hungarian Parliament has delayed voting on Sweden’s request to join NATO until next month, causing criticism from opposition lawmakers. Agnes Vadai, vice president of the Democratic Coalition party, accused the ruling coalition of ignoring the “security of the homeland” by postponing the vote. Both Hungary and Turkey are the only members of the US-led military alliance that have yet to approve Stockholm’s membership bid. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently signed an accession protocol, which will be decided upon by Hungarian lawmakers if it is approved.
In an effort to secure Turkey’s approval, Sweden has made several concessions. They have amended their counterterrorism laws, resumed arms exports to Ankara, and banned support for the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) and other designated terrorist groups by Turkey.
The vote on Swedish membership was originally proposed by Hungarian lawmakers last year but has faced repeated delays due to opposition from the ruling Fidesz party. A vote was scheduled for July but was unsuccessful due to a Fidesz boycott, leaving parliament without enough votes to pass the measure.
A spokesperson for Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban stated that the administration seeks “normal, good relations with Sweden,” but suggested that some of Budapest’s conditions had not been met. The spokesperson added that if good relations were achieved, there would be no obstacles to Sweden’s accession.
Both Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO in May 2022, ending decades of neutrality in response to Russia’s military operation in Ukraine. Finland received Turkey’s approval earlier this year after making similar legal and political concessions to those demanded of Sweden and officially joined NATO in April. Hungary ratified Finland’s bid in March but postponed the Swedish request.
The delay in Hungary’s decision leaves only Budapest as the remaining holdout if Turkey approves Sweden’s membership. The upcoming vote next month will determine whether Sweden can join NATO and will have implications for the security and defense cooperation within the alliance.