Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that his country will ratify NATO membership of Sweden and Finland at the beginning of the next parliamentary session – in January 2023.
The promise came at a meeting of the prime ministers of the 4 Visegrad countries – Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary – in the Slovak city of Kosice.
“Regarding NATO, I can tell you that the government has already made a decision. We have already confirmed to both Finland and Sweden that Hungary supports the membership of these two countries in NATO, and in the first session next year, Parliament will put this on the agenda,” he said, adding that the three prime ministers The others put pressure on the Hungarians to go ahead with the operation.
“I would like to stress that the Swedes and the Finns did not lose a single minute of membership because of Hungary, and Hungary will certainly give them the support they need to join. After the government, so will the parliament,” Orban said.
With a majority of Hungarian opposition parties in parliament in favor of NATO membership for two of the Nordic countries — and Orban’s government also enjoys a two-thirds majority — the measure is expected to pass quickly when it finally comes to the floor.
The V4 meeting took place as fault lines emerged in the regional bloc over Hungary’s approach to the war in Ukraine which its partners viewed as overly conciliatory towards Russia.
Hungary’s delay in holding the NATO vote has also caused speculation that Budapest is using the issue to exert influence over the European Union, which has Frozen billions in financial support to Hungary over concerns that Orbán has overseen a systematic erosion of democratic norms and allowed widespread misuse of EU funds.
However, while acknowledging significant differences of opinion on how to aid 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 underpin continued V4 cooperation in the future.