Swedish PM to Meet Hungary’s Orban Before Vote on Sweden’s NATO Bid


Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson will visit Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Budapest on Friday, three days ahead of the Hungarian parliament’s expected vote on approving Sweden for membership in NATO.

Orban said on Tuesday that it would be a “pleasure” to welcome Kristersson to Budapest, saying in a post on the X platform that they will be discussing how to strengthen “the defense and security policy cooperation between Hungary and Sweden.”

He added that during the meeting, they would also talk about “plans for the Hungarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, and the EU’s Strategic Agenda.”

Hungary’s ruling party Tuesday proposed holding the February 26 vote on the ratification of Sweden’s NATO bid and said it would support Sweden’s accession. Swedish Defense Minister Pal Jonson said the development is “very welcome.”

Sweden, along with Finland, applied to join the Atlantic alliance in May 2022 in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Finland became a NATO member in April of last year.

Lawmakers from Prime Minister Orban’s Fidesz party had repeatedly stalled voting on Sweden’s NATO bid. They also had been angry with Sweden for criticizing a backsliding of democracy in Hungary. According to the Associated Press, Orban indicated in a state of the nation speech in Budapest last Saturday that lawmakers might soon relent.

Over the weekend, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators visited Hungary to press the government on the matter, but no member of the government met with them.

The U.S. lawmakers also said they would introduce a resolution in Congress urging the Orban government to act on Sweden’s ratification.

Accepting new members to the alliance must be a unanimous decision by the existing members and Hungary is the only NATO member that has yet to approve Sweden’s bid.__VOA News