Hungary Declines Sweden/NATO Meeting With U.S. Senators

Hungarian government officials declined on Sunday to meet with a bipartisan delegation of U.S. senators who arrived in the capital city of Budapest on a mission to persuade Hungary to approve Sweden’s request to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

The group of senators announced they plan to take a joint resolution to Congress to condemn Hungary for allegations of democratic backsliding and urge the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to end its policy of obstructing Sweden’s entry to NATO.

The resolution says Hungary “has not joined all other NATO member states in approving the accession of Sweden to NATO, failing to fulfill a commitment not to be last to approve such accession and jeopardizing trans-Atlantic security at a key moment for peace and stability in Europe.”

Hungary is the last remaining holdout of 31 NATO member nations to ratify Sweden’s application for entry to the treaty organization and under the umbrella of its defensive alliance against Russia.

Pressure on Hungary to act is building up after the NATO member state delayed ratifying Sweden’s entry for more than 18 months. Allowing a new country to enter the military alliance can only happen with the unanimous approval of all existing member states.

“With accession, Hungary and your prime minister will be doing a great service to freedom-loving nations worldwide,” Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) said during a news conference at the U.S. Embassy in Budapest.

Orbán insists that he supports allowing Sweden to join NATO. He says other leaders in his party are not so sure because they allege Sweden has questioned the condition of Hungary’s democracy. The Hungarian president says his government will ratify Sweden’s accession to the alliance this spring.

“It’s good news that our dispute with Sweden is nearing a conclusion,” he said. “We are moving toward ratifying Sweden’s accession to NATO at the beginning of the spring session of Parliament.”

Sweden expects Hungary to approve its accession soon. “We welcome that Turkey has completed its ratification process, and expect Hungary to follow shortly,” said Sweden’s foreign minister, Tobias Billstrom, in a speech Wednesday.