Hungary Reluctant To Expand NATO
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said Friday that legislators within his nationalist Fidesz party are reluctant to allow Finland and Sweden into the NATO military alliance.
The two Nordic nations seek NATO membership citing concerns that Russia has military plans behind invading Ukraine.
Speaking on the first anniversary of the invasion, Orbán announced that he reluctantly requested Fidesz lawmakers to support their bid. But he noted that some deputies were “not very enthusiastic” about the expansion.
Orbán, one of Europe’s most vocal supporters of Russia, told Hungarian public radio that his lawmakers sought further discussions on the proposed NATO enlargement.
Parliaments of all 30 members of NATO must ratify any membership bids for the alliance.
Hungarian lawmakers were due to debate the two Scandinavian countries’ NATO efforts Wednesday and vote on the matter on March 6, the parliament’s agenda revealed.
Hungary and Turkey are the only NATO member states that have not ratified Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership.
Ankara says Stockholm has harbored what it calls “terrorists,” including opponents of Turkey’s hardline President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Turkey indicated it would approve only Finland for NATO membership, and Orbán said Turkey’s concerns regarding Sweden should be taken seriously. “Regarding Turkey, they are also our allies, and therefore we need to hear their voice,” Orbán told Hungarian radio. “Without a solution to Turkey’s problem, the expansion could fail.”
However, pressure is also mounting on Hungary, the only European Union nation that still has not ratified NATO’s current expansion.
The EU has already frozen roughly $20 billion in funding for Hungary, citing concerns about perceived violations of the rule of law and democratic standards. Not voting “yes” for NATO could undermine European security and make it even more difficult for Hungary to access that money, Hungarian opposition legislators suggest.
Hours after Orbán‘s interview, some 1,000 angry anti-war Hungarians and Ukrainians demonstrated close to the Russian embassy in Budapest, near a Worthy News bureau and other locations.
Last week, Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock called on Turkey and Hungary to allow Finland and Sweden to join NATO.
She said she expects all NATO members to ratify their bids to join the defense alliance “without further delay.”
Orbán explained, however, that some ruling party lawmakers were worried NATO’s shared border with Russia extending by over 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) after Finland’s entry could mean geopolitical risks.
He added that legislators also criticized Finland and Sweden for spreading “outright lies” about the health of democracy and the rule of law in Hungary, despite numerous investigations.
But Orbán stressed that Hungary, which Moscow dominated for decades before the collapse of communism, had a “moral obligation” to support the Nordic countries.
His comments did little to ease tensions with Brussels which is also angry about Hungary’s refusal to accept all energy sanctions and other punitive measures against Russia.
The Hungarian government has multi-billion-dollar nuclear energy, oil, and natural gas agreements with Moscow. Orbán says sanctions could endanger those deals which are needed as Hungary suffers under the EU’s highest inflation of about 25 percent.
He also accused the EU of warmongering and said Hungary and the Vatican were the only European nations seeking peace talks. “Common sense dictates that there can be no winners in the war in Ukraine, so a ceasefire must be arranged as soon as possible,” Orbán stressed Friday.
He said it was “highly unlikely by any calculation” that Russia would win the war as massive amounts of Western weapons and money are pouring into Ukraine. Yet, “it would be wrong to think that Russia, a nuclear power, can be beaten,” he added, referring to an armed conflict beyond Ukraine.
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