June 21. 2024. 7:34

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Hungary further delays Sweden and Finland NATO ratifications


Hungary’s ruling party lawmakers want to postpone next week’s parliament session, which means a further delay in its ratification of Finland and Sweden’s NATO admission.

Sweden and Finland applied last year for membership of the transatlantic military alliance after Russian forces swept into Ukraine. All 30 NATO members must ratify the applications, and Hungary, as well as Turkey, have held back their approvals.

An opposition party lawmaker, Agnes Vadai, of the leftist Democratic Coalition, said in a Facebook post on Tuesday she had received a letter from Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjen informing her that the ruling Fidesz and the Christian Democrats want to postpone the session which would have started on Monday (14 March).

The ruling Fidesz party confirmed to Reuters that parliament would not hold a session next week, which they said was due to a “delay in negotiations with Brussels.” Hungary is mired in a dispute with the European Commission over the release of EU funds.

“The (Fidesz) parliamentary group will decide about the Finnish and Swedish NATO accession after a delegation of lawmakers (who visited the two countries) give an account of that visit,” Fidesz’s press office said.

Sweden and Finland applied last year for membership of the transatlantic military alliance after Russian forces invaded Ukraine. All 30 NATO members must ratify the applications, and Hungary and Turkey have held back their approvals.

Parliament’s press office declined comment. Parliament could convene again only on 27 March.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party has said it intends to back the ratification, but last week a Fidesz lawmaker Csaba Hende said he would still need to work more to address concerns some of his fellow parliamentarians have.

Hungary’s ratification process has been stranded in parliament since July, and in February Orbán accused Finland and Sweden of spreading “outright lies” about democracy and rule of law in Hungary.

Hende said some Hungarians had been offended by what he called allegations of a lack of democracy in Hungary by Nordic Members of the European Parliament.

Speaker of the Finnish Parliament Matti Vanhanen said the Hungarian delegation had not set any conditions for ratifying the Finnish NATO bid.

“They fully acknowledged that Finland meets NATO’s membership criteria and they will process Finland’s NATO membership solely on criteria related to NATO membership,” Vanhanen told reporters.