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31 Jul, 2023 12:39

Hungarian parliament fails to approve Sweden’s NATO bid

A boycott by the ruling party left opposition MPs without enough votes to ratify the expansion of the US-led military bloc
Hungarian parliament fails to approve Sweden’s NATO bid

The ruling Hungarian Fidesz party has boycotted the Monday session of parliament, which resulted in a vote to ratify Sweden’s membership in NATO failing, due to low attendance.

While the overwhelming majority of opposition MPs who attended the extraordinary session voted in favor of admitting the Nordic nation into the US-led military bloc, the lawmakers from the ruling party, which holds a two-thirds majority in the chamber, did not show up, according to Hungarian media.

Only two members of the 31-strong alliance – Hungary and Türkiye – are yet to ratify their national laws on Swedish membership. The accession will not be finalized until all nations do so.

Some Hungarian news outlets suggested that the party of Prime Minister Viktor Orban wanted to delay the vote until September, when the legislature returns from recess. Türkiye is also expected to approve Swedish membership in the autumn, though Ankara’s position on the issue so far has been mercurial.

Ahead of the vote, the opposition argued that the ratification must pass because Hungary’s reputation with fellow NATO members would be hurt otherwise. The government argued that there was no reason to rush.

Gergely Gulyas, who heads the prime minister’s office, said last week that the Orban government supports the NATO bid, but added that some members of Fidesz were less enthusiastic.

Orban and his cabinet have broken with the dominant narrative within the alliance, which urges for continued military support for Ukraine in its conflict against Russia. Budapest has called for unconditional peace talks, highlighting the cost of the hostilities to all parties involved, including members of the EU that were hurt by their own sanctions on Russia.

“The Americans can pull out a lot of money with all sorts of financial manipulations, but the euro is a different story, it’s not suited for that,” the prime minister said in an interview on Friday, explaining his opposition to protracting the conflict.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared his support for Sweden’s accession during a summit of NATO leaders in Lithuania earlier this month, pledging to send the relevant legislation to MPs for consideration.

Previously he and other senior officials criticized the European nation for a number of issues, including what they described as harboring wanted terrorists from Türkiye on its soil and allowing the burning of the Quran during political protests.