The Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, assured this Wednesday that he reaffirmed in a phone call with the head of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, his “support” for the Swedish member of the Atlantic Alliance. Hungary remains the last country to resist the approval of Sweden’s candidacy for NATO.
“I reaffirm that the Hungarian Government supports Sweden’s membership in NATO,” Orbán wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “I also emphasize that we will continue to urge the Hungarian National Assembly to vote in favor of Sweden’s accession and full ratification at the first possible opportunity,” he added.
On Tuesday, Orbán sent a letter to his Swedish counterpart, Ulf Kristersson, inviting him to Budapest to discuss the candidacy “as soon as possible.”
Last week, Hungary criticized Sweden for not taking steps to strengthen bilateral relations. Budapest has repeatedly criticized what it calls Sweden’s “openly hostile attitude,” accusing Swedish representatives of being “repeatedly eager to attack Hungary” on rule-of-law issues.
Stoltenberg welcomed Orban’s “good decision”. “I appreciate the clear support of the Prime Minister and his Government for Sweden’s membership in NATO. I look forward to the approval as soon as the parliament meets again,” he wrote to X.
Parliament is scheduled to reconvene in mid-February. Turkey’s parliament on Tuesday approved Sweden’s membership in NATO after more than a year of delays that have hampered Western efforts to show resolve in Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to sign Sweden’s ratification document and end Ankara’s role in the protracted saga in the coming days.
Orban and Erdogan have maintained good relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin throughout the war in Ukraine.
NATO leaders fear that the Kremlin is trying to use the two strong leaders to sow divisions in the West.
Sweden and Finland applied for NATO membership after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Finland became the 31st member of the Alliance in April.