Orban's Party Blocks Sweden's NATO RatificationEU | February 5, 2024, Monday // 16:36| views
Hungary's ruling Fidesz party, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, has indefinitely postponed the ratification of Sweden's NATO membership. This move unfolded during an emergency plenary session, specially convened at the opposition's request to address this crucial matter.
The parliamentary hall appeared nearly empty, with Fidesz members boycotting the proceedings. Notably, ambassadors from several NATO countries, including the US, Poland, and Denmark, attended the session as guests. This marked a robust diplomatic gesture, applying substantial pressure on Budapest not to delay the decision further.
The ratification process, which could only commence during the regular parliamentary session scheduled for February 26 at the earliest, is now shrouded in uncertainty. The issue of Sweden's NATO membership is conspicuously absent from the current parliamentary agenda.
Earlier today, a statement from Fidesz reiterated the government's stance on the matter, emphasizing that if Sweden deems the issue so crucial, then its Prime Minister should visit Budapest. This statement alludes to a previous lack of commitment from the Swedish Prime Minister, Ulf Kristersson, to schedule a visit before Hungary would ratify Sweden's NATO membership.
The diplomatic tension escalated last week when Kristersson, after meeting with Orbán in Brussels, revealed that he had not been offered a specific date for a visit and questioned the necessity of such a visit before Sweden officially became a NATO member. In contrast, the US embassy urged Hungary to act promptly, emphasizing that Prime Minister Orbán had promised Hungary would act "at the earliest opportunity."
The unexpected delay prompted strong reactions from opposition lawmakers during the parliamentary session. Opposition MP Máté Kanász-Nagy voiced his displeasure, describing Fidesz's ongoing blockage of Sweden's admission as "extremely unpleasant." Agnes Vadai from the opposition Democratic Coalition accused Orbán of undermining NATO unity by favoring Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The ambassadors present at the session refrained from commenting during the proceedings, leaving observers awaiting their post-session reactions, which could shed light on the broader diplomatic implications of Hungary's decision.
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