Hungary's ‘good news’ for Sweden's NATO bid: ‘Going in direction of…’

Author:Reuters 2024-02-18 01:50 17

The Hungarian parliament can ratify Sweden's NATO membership when it convenes for its new spring session later this month, Prime Minister Viktor Orban told his supporters on Saturday.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban delivers his annual State of the Nation speech, in Budapest, Hungary.(Reuters)

"It's good news that our dispute with Sweden will soon be settled," Orban said in a key speech. "We are going in the direction that at the start of parliament's spring session we can ratify Sweden's accession to NATO."

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He said he and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson had taken steps "to rebuild trust" between the two countries. Orban did not say what those steps were.

Sweden applied to join NATO in May 2022 in a historic shift in policy prompted by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Hungary is the only NATO country not yet to have ratified Sweden's application, a process that requires the backing of all NATO members. The delay has soured relations with the United States and raised concerns among its allies.

Orban's ruling Fidesz party has cited what it called unfounded Swedish allegations that it has eroded democracy in Hungary as the reason why Sweden's NATO bid had been held up.

Orban, who has better ties with Russia than other EU states and most NATO members, has repeatedly said his government backs Sweden joining the alliance, but the legislation has been stranded in the Hungarian parliament since mid-2022.

Parliament is expected to reconvene on February 26.

Title:Hungary's ‘good news’ for Sweden's NATO bid: ‘Going in direction of…’

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