Hungary to Ratify Sweden NATO Accession02/26 06:07
BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) -- Hungary's parliament is to vote Monday on
ratifying Sweden's bid to join NATO, likely bringing an end to more than 18
months of delays that have frustrated the alliance as it seeks to expand in
response to Russia's war in Ukraine.
Hungary's government submitted the protocols for approving Sweden's entrance
to NATO in 2022, but the matter has stalled in parliament since then over
opposition by governing party lawmakers. Unanimous support among all NATO
members is required to admit new countries, and Hungary is the only one of the
alliance's 31 members that has not given its backing.
Prime Minister Viktor Orbn, a right-wing nationalist who has forged close
ties with Russia, has said that criticism of Hungary's democracy by Swedish
politicians had soured relations between the two countries and led to
reluctance among lawmakers in his Fidesz party.
But the vote on Monday is widely expected to approve Sweden's membership in
NATO, removing the final hurdle after it first applied to join the alliance in
Ulf Kristersson, Sweden's prime minister, met with Orbn on Friday in
Hungary's capital, where they appeared to reach a decisive reconciliation.
Following their meeting, they announced the conclusion of a defense industry
agreement which will include Hungary's purchase of four Swedish-made JAS 39
Gripen jets and the extension of a service contract for its existing Gripen
Orbn said the additional fighter jets "will significantly increase our
military capabilities and further strengthen our role abroad" and will improve
Hungary's ability to participate in joint NATO operations.
"To be a member of NATO together with another country means we are ready to
die for each other," Orbn said. "A deal on defense and military capacities
helps to reconstruct the trust between the two countries."
Monday's vote on Sweden's NATO accession is just one matter on a busy agenda
for lawmakers in the Hungarian parliament. A vote is also scheduled on
accepting the resignation of President Katalin Novk, who stepped down earlier
this month in a scandal over her decision to pardon to a man convicted of
covering up a string of child sexual abuses.
After accepting Novk's resignation, lawmakers are expected to confirm Tams
Sulyok, the president of Hungary's Constitutional Court, as the country's new
Some opposition parties have said they will not participate in a vote to
confirm a new president. But Sulyok was nominated by Orbn's Fidesz party,
which has a two-thirds majority in parliament and is expected to easily approve
A presidential signature is required for approval of Sweden's NATO bid to
take effect, but it was unclear when that final endorsement would take place.
Hungary's allies in NATO and the European Union have put increasing pressure
on it in recent months to drop its opposition to Sweden's membership. Last
weekend, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators visited Hungary and announced it
would submit a joint resolution to Congress condemning Hungary's alleged
democratic backsliding and urging Orbn's government to immediately lift its
block on Sweden's trans-Atlantic integration.