Fri. Nov 25th, 2022

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has said that his country will ratify the membership of Sweden and Finland in NATO at the beginning of the next parliamentary session — in January 2023.

The promise came at a meeting of the prime ministers of the Visegrad 4 countries — Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary — in the Slovak city of Košice.

“About NATO, I can tell you that the Government has already made a decision. We have already confirmed to Finland and Sweden that Hungary supports the membership of these two countries in NATO, and at the first session next year the Parliament will put this on the agenda.” , he said and added that the other three prime ministers put pressure on the Hungarians to move forward with the process.

“I would like to emphasize that the Swedes and Finns have not lost a single minute of membership because of Hungary, and Hungary will certainly give them the necessary support for membership. After the government, the Parliament will do the same,” Orbán said.

Since most of Hungary’s opposition parties in parliament are in favor of the two Nordic nations’ NATO membership – since Orbán’s government has a two-thirds majority – the measure is expected to be quickly adopted when it finally comes up for debate.

The V4 meeting was held at a time when lines of disagreement appeared in the regional bloc over Hungary’s approach to the war in Ukraine, which its partners perceived as overly conciliatory towards Russia.

Hungary’s delay in holding the NATO vote has also sparked speculation that Budapest is using the issue to exert influence on the EU, which frozen billions of financial support to Hungary over fears that Orban has overseen the systematic erosion of democratic standards and allowed widespread misuse of EU funds.

Still, while acknowledging significant differences of opinion on how to help Ukraine and punish Russia for its invasion, Visegrad 4 leaders said shared interests such as ensuring energy security, stopping illegal immigration and strengthening border protection form the basis for continued V4 cooperation in the future.