Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has said his country will ratify Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership at the start of the next parliamentary session in January 2023.
The promise was made during a meeting of the prime ministers of the 4 Visegrad countries – Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary – in the Slovak city of Košice.
“On NATO, I can tell you that the government has already made a decision. We have already confirmed to Finland and Sweden that Hungary supports the accession of these two countries to NATO, and during the first session next year, Parliament will put this on the agenda,” he said, adding that the other three prime ministers had been pressuring the Hungarians to push the process forward.
“I would like to point out that the Swedes and Finns have not lost a single minute of membership because of Hungary, and Hungary will certainly give them the support they need to join. After the government, the Parliament too” , said Orbán.
As the majority of Hungary’s opposition parties in parliament support NATO membership for the two Nordic nations – as Orbán’s government has a two-thirds majority – the measure is expected to pass quickly when it arrives. finally on the ground.
The V4 meeting came as fault lines emerged in the regional bloc over Hungary’s approach to the war in Ukraine, which its partners perceived as too conciliatory towards Russia.
Hungary’s delay in organizing the NATO vote has also sparked speculation that Budapest is using the issue to exert influence over the EU, which has frozen billions of financial support to Hungary over fears that Orban has overseen a systematic erosion of democratic standards and enabled widespread misuse of EU funds.
Yet, while acknowledging significant differences of opinion on how to help Ukraine and punish Russia for its invasion, Visegrad 4 leaders said common interests such as energy security, stopping illegal immigration and stronger border protection provided a basis for further V4 cooperation in the future.