NATO shouldn’t trust Hungary and Turkey, claims German newspaper Die Welt

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, and Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán shake hands, during a meeting in Ankara, Turkey, Thursday, March 16, 2023. (AP Photo)
By Dénes Albert
5 Min Read

German newspaper Die Welt claims in an opinion piece that Turkey and Hungary should not be trusted within the NATO alliance. The paper writes that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan continues to block Sweden’s NATO accession, and Hungary wants EU money in exchange for approving the membership of both nations.

The author of the piece, Clemens Wergin, also claims that both nations have developed “unseemly” ties to Russia and then asks whether NATO should even share sensitive data with both countries.

“And in their turn toward authoritarianism, Ankara and Budapest have also distanced themselves significantly from the community of values ​​for which NATO stands. The alliance is therefore well advised to treat both as partners with reservation. This should include, for example, no longer necessarily sharing certain sensitive data with Turkey and Hungary within NATO,” Wergin writes.

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When Wergin, the chief foreign policy correspondent for Die Welt, refers to “authoritarianism,” he makes no mention of the fact that French President Emmanuel Macron is facing mass protests in his country after ramming through pension reform without even a vote in parliament, or that he then banned protests in certain areas of Paris following the decree. In Germany itself, the current government is looking to ban one of the country’s top opposition parties, Alternative for Germany (AfD), even as the party soars in popularity. Such an authoritarian move would be met with an outcry from Brussels and Berlin if Orbán were to even consider banning opposition parties in Hungary.

Regarding the “blackmail” Wergin claims Hungary is subjecting NATO to, it should be noted that the EU first “blackmailed” Hungary, demanding the country make rule-of-law changes in order to unlock billions in EU funds. Arguably, the Hungarian government has more of a democratic mandate than the German government, with Orbán’s Fidesz party receiving such high levels of support that it resulted in yet another landslide victory last year and a two-thirds majority in parliament.

Wergin argues that Finland is likely to join NATO soon, as Erdoğan has given up his opposition to that country’s NATO membership. That means Finland is likely to join NATO without Sweden. He posits that this is because the Turkish decision is putting considerable pressure on the Hungarian government, which is also blocking membership, to agree to at least Finnish membership as well.

“As a result, it has now become more likely that at least Finland, which is particularly vulnerable due to its long land border with Russia, will be able to join NATO in the near future. Sweden, on the other hand, will probably have to wait at least until after the elections in Turkey. Northeastern Europe would thus become an area of divided security for the time being, with the Finns inside the NATO umbrella and the Swedes on the outside,” he argues.

He continues by writing that both states had turned the Nordic countries’ urgent application for membership, triggered by the Russian war, into a “farce” and prevented admission for extraneous reasons. Erdoğan wanted Sweden to impose a tougher policy on Turkish opposition groups and had also been outraged by an anti-Islam action by right-wing provocateur Rasmus Paulson, who had burned a Quran in Stockholm. He claims Paulson was funded by Russia but offers no evidence in support of his claim.

On his recent trip to Turkey, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán repeated his country’s stance for immediate peace talks to end the war in Ukraine, saying that Europe was suffering from “war psychosis,” with the continent drifting further into war day by day.

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