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Hungarian foreign minister: No change to Hungary's position on Sweden's NATO accession

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk October 25, 2023 3:08 PM 1 min read
Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Peter Szijjarto, attends the 26th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in Russia on June 15, 2023. (Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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Turkey's submission of a measure to approve Sweden's NATO accession does not affect Hungary's decision-making process, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Oct. 24, Hungarian news sources reported.

"This changes nothing on our side," Szijjarto said, "Hungary’s parliament is the parliament of a sovereign country, so it will make a sovereign decision on this issue."

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a protocol on Sweden's NATO accession on Oct. 23, and the measure is now awaiting ratification by Turkey's parliament.

Following the news from Turkey, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reportedly told allies in a letter last week that Sweden should join the military bloc at the latest during a foreign ministers' meeting on Nov. 28-29.

However, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in September that Hungary was in no rush to ratify Sweden's membership, a sentiment echoed by Szijjarto.

Previously, Szijjarto said in July, "Our position regarding Sweden is also clear: the government supports NATO accession, which is why we presented the proposal on this issue to the parliament many months ago."

"Closing the ratification process is only a technical issue."

It is unclear what the cause for future delays would be. Hungary eventually ratified Finland's accession to the alliance nine months after the original application, but only after Erdogan first said Turkey would support the bid.

Some have argued that Hungary's delays are simply a bargaining chip to extract further concessions, but as the goalpost continues to move, it is difficult to tell what will finally convince Hungary to ratify Sweden.

Hungary has maintained ties with Russia even after the beginning of the full-scale invasion, and has repeatedly stalled sanctions against Russia and aid for Kyiv. Szijjarto visited Russia for the fifth time since February 2022 on Oct. 12.

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