Hungary Delays Sweden’s NATO Accession: A Matter of Security or Politics?
No Rush for NATO Ratification
Despite international pressure, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has recently stated that his country is not in a hurry to ratify Sweden’s NATO accession. During a session in Hungary’s parliament, Orbán expressed that he doesn’t see any immediate threat to Sweden’s national security that would necessitate a rushed entry into the NATO alliance.
Sweden, along with Finland, had sought NATO membership following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, abandoning their longstanding stance of military neutrality. However, Hungary has delayed ratifying Sweden’s bid since July 2022, even after Finland’s ratification was approved in March. The delay has been attributed to what Hungary alleges are false claims by Swedish politicians about the state of Hungary’s democracy.
International Relations at Play
This development comes at a time when Hungary has been maintaining its stance on multiple international issues. Notably, Orbán has also declared that Hungary will not support Ukraine on any international matter until the language rights of the sizable Hungarian minority in western Ukraine are restored.
Another point of contention has been Hungary’s relationship with Russia. Despite opposing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Hungary, under Orbán’s administration, has nurtured close ties with Russia and refrained from criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin. Hungary’s stance on these issues has raised questions about its role and alignments in the international arena.
Implications for Sweden and NATO
The delay in ratifying Sweden’s NATO membership bid has potential implications for both Sweden and the NATO alliance. For Sweden, gaining NATO membership is seen as a strategic move to bolster its security amid growing geopolitical tensions. On the other hand, NATO, which operates on a consensus basis, requires the unanimous approval of all member countries for any new accessions. As such, the delay by Hungary effectively puts Sweden’s NATO bid on hold.
With Hungary and Turkey being the only NATO member countries yet to approve Sweden’s bid, the future of Sweden’s NATO membership remains uncertain. The situation serves as a reminder of the complex interplay of international relations and political considerations that can impact decisions in global alliances such as NATO.
As the international community continues to watch the unfolding developments, the key question remains: Is the delay in Sweden’s NATO accession a matter of security, politics, or a mix of both? As Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s recent statements suggest, the answer might not be as straightforward as it appears.
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