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Hungarian Prime Minister says further talks are needed on Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO membership.

FILE PHOTO: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban delivers his annual State of the Nation speech, in Budapest, Hungary, February 18, 2023. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Friday that more talks between parliamentary groups were needed before lawmakers vote on whether to ratify Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO membership offers, which they will start debating. next Wednesday.

Speaking on public radio, Mr Orban said he had asked parliamentarians from his nationalist Fidesz party to support their candidacy, adding however that some MPs were “not very enthusiastic” about the election. enlargement and wanted discussions to continue on this subject.

The parliaments of NATO’s 30 members must ratify any application for membership of the alliance. Hungarian parliamentarians are due to vote on the issue on March 6, according to the parliament’s agenda posted online.

Mr Orban added that in the end it should be clear that Hungary supports Finland and Sweden joining NATO, but said that Turkey’s concerns about Turkey’s entry Sweden should also be heard, otherwise the expansion effort could fail.

“As far as Turkey is concerned, they are also our allies, and so we must hear their voice,” Orban said.

Ankara claims that Stockholm harbored what Ankara calls members of terrorist groups. Turkey recently indicated it would only approve Finland’s NATO membership, while Hungary says it has been held up by a flurry of legislation needed to unlock European Union funds.

“We have to pay attention to Turkey because, in the end, the whole process will be blocked. If there is no solution to the problem of Turkey, then the enlargement could fail.”

Last week, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock called on Turkey and Hungary to allow Finland and Sweden to join NATO, saying she expected all NATO members ratify their offers to join the defense alliance “without further delay”.

Mr Orban said some ruling party parliamentarians were concerned that NATO’s common border with Russia stretches over 1,000 km (620 miles), highlighting potential geopolitical risks stemming from the entering Finland.

Other parliamentarians railed against what Mr Orban described as Finland and Sweden’s dissemination of “outright lies” about the health of democracy and the rule of law in Hungary.

He added, however, that Hungary, dominated by Moscow for decades before the collapse of communism, had a “moral obligation” to support the Nordic countries’ candidacy.

Earlier this week, Hungary’s negotiator for European Union funds flagged a possible further delay in accessing billions of euros in recovery funds, saying ironing out remaining issues with Brussels over democratic reforms could last until summer.

The bloc has suspended all payments until the nationalist government in Budapest implements reforms to improve the independence of the judiciary and fight corruption.

“I am on the side of those who call for calm,” Mr. Orban said, describing the debate on NATO enlargement among his parliamentarians.

“I also agree with the opinion of the parliamentary group that all is not well. However, I asked them that in the end it should be clear that in principle we support the entry of Sweden and Finland in NATO. However, serious discussions will be necessary beforehand.”

source: zonebourse