Hungarian PM pledges to swiftly ratify NATO accession of Sweden, Finland

Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán. Photo: PAP/Leszek Szymański

Hungarian Prime Minister said that his country would ratify NATO membership for Finland and Sweden within a month. The announcement was made during the meeting of the V4 regional group taking place in Košice, Slovakia.

“When it comes to NATO, the government has made the decision, and we have informed Sweden and Finland that Hungary supports the membership of these two countries in NATO,” said Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán.

Earlier that day his Polish counterpart, Mateusz Morawiecki, said that he “asked Prime Minister Orbán to ratify the entry of Finland and Sweden to NATO as soon as possible,” and received “a promise that at the first parliament session in the new year [...] the ratification will take place.”

The decision of the two Nordic countries to accede to the alliance after decades of neutrality was sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But since all NATO members pledge to come to the assistance of any other member in case of an attack, unanimity is required to expand the alliance. Most NATO countries quickly welcomed Finland and Sweden’s decision and this time around the accession procedure, which usually takes years of negotiations, has been fast-tracked, though Hungary and Turkey have been dragging their feet.

While for Turkey the problem lies with Sweden’s lenient approach to Kurdish organisations, which Turkey considers terrorist and struggles against them both within its borders and in Syria, Hungary’s reluctance is widely seen as an unwillingness to antagonise Russia, which Budapest relies on for cheap energy resources. Hungary’s reluctance has caused friction within the V4, whose other members (Poland, Czechia, and Slovakia) are strongly supportive of Ukraine and enthusiastic about NATO expansion.

In spite of that, Orbán’s chief of staff already said on November 16 that Hungary will ratify Sweden's and Finland's accession to NATO before Turkey, with the Hungarian government already having submitted the relevant legislation to parliament but without having yet scheduled the debate and vote.