Hungarian ruling party lawmakers give no date for Nordic NATO ratifications

Sweden and Finland applied last year for membership in the military alliance, and are awaiting only approval from Turkey and Hungary.

By Anne Kauranen, Reuters - March 8, 2023
Csaba Hende, the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of Hungary briefs the media after meeting with Matti Vanhanen, the Speaker of the Finnish Parliament, in Helsinki, Finland, on March 8, 2023. (Vesa Moilanen / Lehtikuva via Reuters)

HELSINKI β€” Hungarian ruling party lawmakers visiting Finland and Sweden could not confirm a date for the Hungarian parliament’s pending ratification of the two Nordic countries’ NATO admission, the leader of the delegation said on Wednesday.

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.

“This is a promising beginning, which however does not suggest when and what the decision will be made,” Csaba Hende, Hungary’s Deputy Speaker of the House representing the ruling Fidesz party told Reuters after meeting Finnish lawmakers in Helsinki.

“It takes normally five to six weeks for a proposal to go through parliament’s decision-making mechanism. This is not a rule, this is a customary proceeding,” he added.

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

“What I’m working for is to have majority behind (the ratifications),” he said. Hungary’s ruling party has a two-thirds majority in parliament.

Hungary’s ratification process has been stranded in parliament since July, and in February Orban accused Finland and Sweden of spreading “outright lies” about the quality of 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.

Additional reporting and editing by Krisztina Than in Budapest and Alex Richardson.

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