Orbán pledges support for Sweden's NATO entry hours before vote

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban takes part in the parliamentary session prior to the vote on the ratification of Sweden's NATO membership. Marton Monus/dpa
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban takes part in the parliamentary session prior to the vote on the ratification of Sweden's NATO membership. Marton Monus/dpa
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Hours before the Hungarian parliament is to vote on Sweden's accession to NATO, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán pledged his support for the Scandinavian country to join the alliance.

"Today we ... will support Sweden's accession to NATO," said the right-wing populist politician at the beginning of the plenary session.

At the same time, Orbán emphasized that he saw "no military solution" to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, but only a negotiated end to the war.

Hungary is the last NATO holdout as Swedish admission to the alliance has been approved by all other members. Unanimous approval from the group, currently numbering 31 countries, is required for a new member to gain access.

Orbán emphasized that it was important to resolve bilateral disputes before ratifying Sweden's accession to NATO. This had been done "in a dignified manner" by the visit of Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson last Friday.

External attempts to intervene in these disputes had not been helpful. Hungary is a sovereign state and does not tolerate outside interference, he said.

Orbán stressed that agreements on military cooperation had been concluded "to our mutual advantage." He was referring to agreements on the purchase and maintenance of Swedish Jas 39 Gripen fighter jets, which were signed on Friday during Kristersson's visit.

Orbán maintains good relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Nevertheless, he labelled Russia an aggressor in the Ukraine conflict on Monday.

An end to this war, "in which Russia has attacked Ukraine," should be brought about as soon as possible, he said. Hungary was in favour of an immediate ceasefire.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjen take part in the parliamentary session to vote on the ratification of Sweden's NATO membership in Budapest. Marton Monus/dpa
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjen take part in the parliamentary session to vote on the ratification of Sweden's NATO membership in Budapest. Marton Monus/dpa