Swedish PM’s visit to Budapest on Friday could break NATO membership impasse

By Thomas Brooke
2 Min Read

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán will receive his Swedish counterpart, Ulf Kristersson, for a working visit to Budapest on Friday as the pair seek to reach an agreement on Sweden’s pending application to join NATO.

Announced by Orbán’s press chief, Bertalan Havasi, on Tuesday, the two leaders are expected to discuss defense and security policy, Hungary’s upcoming presidency of the European Council, and the future trajectory of the European Union.

Orbán expressed his “pleasure” at hosting the Swedish leader and the acceptance of his invitation to visit the Hungarian capital could draw a close to the ongoing dispute over Sweden’s accession to the defense alliance.

After the Turkish parliament ratified the Scandinavian nation’s NATO bid last month, Hungary remains the last member state to approve the move with many lawmakers in the governing Fidesz party reportedly lukewarm on the idea after a string of derogatory remarks by both the Swedish government and Sweden’s MEPs about the health of Hungarian democracy in recent times.

Attempts by the Hungarian opposition to force a vote on Sweden’s application have been evaded by Hungary’s governing party, including earlier this month when Fidesz lawmakers boycotted an extraordinary parliamentary session convened by Speaker of the House László Kövér at the initiative of left-wing Hungarian MPs.

“At the very beginning of the regular parliamentary session, the Swedish ratification of NATO could take place, but this would require a meeting between the two prime ministers in Budapest,” Fidesz caucus leader Máté Kocsis noted at the time, an invitation that was previously extended to Ulf Kristersson last month but resisted by members of his cabinet.

Following the announcement of Kirstersson’s visit to Budapest, Fidesz’s parliamentary leader Máté Kocsis announced via his social media accounts that the ratification of Sweden’s NATO accession would be put on the agenda on the first day of the spring session of parliament, which takes place next Monday.

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