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Orban: Hungary supports Sweden's NATO accession

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk January 24, 2024 5:48 PM 2 min read
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban arrives at the European Council summit in Brussels on Dec. 14, 2023. (Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban "reaffirmed" his government's support of Sweden's bid to join NATO, Orban said on Jan. 24 after a phone conversation with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

The statement came after Turkey's parliament voted to approve Sweden's accession to the alliance on Jan. 23, leaving Hungary as the only remaining holdout. Turkey had dragged out the process of Sweden's entrance into NATO for more than 17 months since Stockholm initially applied in May 2022.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan must still sign off on the parliament's decision as the final step in the process.

Chief among Turkey's opposition to Sweden's accession were claims that Sweden supported Kurdish groups that Turkey considers to be terrorists, a charge that Swedish authorities denied.

Sweden ultimately increased pressure on the Kurdish groups, including jailing a Swedish man with Kurdish origins on charges of financing terrorism and extraditing another to Turkey. Swedish authorities claimed the moves were not linked to its NATO bid.  

Orban said that he "will continue to urge" Hungary's parliament "to vote in favor of Sweden’s accession and conclude the ratification at the first possible opportunity."

Orban and other Hungarian officials have previously said they support Sweden's NATO bid, so it is unclear why there continues to be a delay to finally ratify the move.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in July 2023 that "closing the ratification process is only a technical issue."

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.

Opinion: Orban is plain wrong on Ukraine
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban sought to blackball Ukraine’s bid to formally start EU accession talks last month, arguing that Ukraine was simply not ready. Ultimately, the other 26 EU member states decided to ignore Orban’s protestations and formally agreed to the start of accession talks wi…
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