OAN Brooke Mallory
UPDATED 12:50 PM – Tuesday, March 28, 2023
After months of delays, Finland’s NATO application has finally been approved by the Hungarian Parliament on Monday, moving the Nordic nation closer to attaining membership in the Western military alliance.
The resolution was approved with 182 favored votes and six opposing votes, following the Hungarian government’s decision to repeatedly postpone the voting process after nearly all other alliance members accepted Finland’s petition.
This agitated both NATO allies and the European Union (EU).
Helsinki and other cities rejoiced at Hungary’s approval, but the future of Sweden’s NATO membership was uncertain because members of Hungary’s ruling party stated they would wait until Stockholm resolved any outstanding issues before voting.
After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Finland and Sweden jointly submitted an application for membership.
Turkey’s own complaints, amid claims that Stockholm is too lenient on organizations it considers to be terrorist organizations, have added to the uncertainty surrounding Sweden’s application.
A vote on Sweden could be delayed until early April or May, according to Agnes Vadai, a politician from Hungary’s opposition Democratic Coalition party, who claimed that the ruling Fidesz party has been using “pretexts” to put off ratification for the two nations.
“There is no real reason for not supporting these countries… NATO accession shouldn’t be a question of personal feelings and blackmailing,” said the former secretary of state in Hungary’s ministry of defense.
Of the 30 NATO countries, Turkey is now the only nation that has not confirmed Finland’s entry. To join the alliance, a new member must receive the support of the entire alliance.
However, Finland’s application to join NATO was approved by Turkey’s Parliamentary Foreign Affairs committee last week, and a vote on membership is anticipated to take place prior to Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections happening on May 14th.
Even though Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has long expressed his country’s backing for NATO expansion, the government claims that politicians from Sweden and Finland have told “blatant lies” regarding the state of Hungary’s democracy, which has caused some ruling party lawmakers to hesitate about whether to support the accession bids.
On Friday, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto claimed that his country’s government had been reluctant to offer support on sensible issues in an interview with the press at the United Nations (UN).
Szijjarto was specifically referring to NATO’s buildup against Russia, due to the West’s constant criticism of Hungary on both democratic and cultural issues.
The EU, which is made up of 21 NATO nations, has consistently accused Orban’s administration of repressing press freedom and LGBTQ+ individuals, fostering a pervasive climate of corruption, and using state institutions to further the agenda of the ruling Fidesz party.
According to some opposing analysts and politicians in Hungary, the country’s procrastination on ratification was an attempt to persuade both Sweden and Finland to support the release of enormous amounts of EU funds designated for Budapest that have been held back due to alleged violations of the bloc’s legal standards.
Hungary will not take action over Sweden until Turkey determines whether or not to support the country’s NATO membership request, according to Samuel Agoston Mraz, director of the pro-government Nezopont Intezet thinktank.
Hungary “does not want to make decisions against the Turks” and also wants assurance from Stockholm regarding their efforts to improve bilateral relations, says Mraz.
“Hungary is a supporter of a unified NATO. It does not believe in Turkey versus all the other member states,” Mraz maintained.
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