Lawmakers in Budapest voted to accept Finland into the bloc, while leaving Sweden in limbo Hungarian lawmakers, including Prime Minister Viktor Orban, vote to ratify Finland’s NATO application in Budapest, Hungary, March 27, 2023 © AP / Denes Erdos
Hungarian lawmakers have voted to support Finland’s accession to NATO, clearing the way for Helsinki to join the US-led bloc after an upcoming vote in Türkiye. Sweden’s own membership bid, however, remains stalled.
The Hungarian parliament voted 182-6 on Monday in favor of Finland’s accession. The Nordic nation will become the bloc’s 31st member after a similar vote in the Turkish parliament, which will likely take place before the end of this month, according to Turkish media reports.
Finland and Sweden both renounced their neutrality last summer and filed a joint application to join NATO. Membership requires the unanimous consent of all existing member states, and Türkiye blocked the applications until both Helsinki and Stockholm committed to lifting arms embargoes on Türkiye, extraditing alleged Kurdish and Gulenist terrorists, and investigating the activity of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) within their borders.
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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated earlier this month that Helsinki had “taken concrete steps” toward meeting Ankara’s demands, and announced that he would back Finland’s membership. However, the Turkish government has accused Sweden of holding out on its promises, and tensions between Stockholm and Ankara were further inflamed by Swedish authorities’ refusal to stop Koran-burning protests earlier this year.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban initially pledged to support membership for both Finland and Sweden, then said in February that he would first have to have “serious discussions” about both countries’ role in “spreading blatant lies about Hungary, about the rule of law in Hungary, about democracy, about life here.”
Sweden and Finland have fiercely condemned Hungary’s conservative government, with both supporting the EU’s withholding of funds from Budapest over Orban’s supposed stifling of LGBT and migrant rights as well as judicial independence concerns.
While Orban dropped his opposition to Finland’s membership bid, the deadlock with Sweden has not been resolved.
“In recent years, Swedish government officials, ministers, the prime minister and politicians have made a sport out of questioning the state of Hungary’s democracy,” Orban’s chief adviser, Balazs Orban, wrote on Facebook on Sunday. “As the saying goes, you can talk back to the conductor but then your ticket better be completely in order.” (RT)