Orbán’s Diplomatic Dance: Hungary’s Approach To Sweden’s NATO Bid

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Orbán's Diplomatic Dance: Hungary's Approach To Sweden's NATO Bid

The right to vote on the Nordic nation’s application was forfeited by the ruling Fidesz party, which commands an absolute majority in parliament, on Monday during a session. Members of the party of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán of Hungary did not show up for an emergency meeting of parliament on Monday. 

The purpose of the meeting was to vote on adding Sweden’s NATO bid to the legislative agenda, which has been delayed for 18 months and infuriated Hungary’s allies. Since July 2022, Sweden’s request has been stalled by the ruling Fidesz party, which has an absolute majority in parliament and claims that Swedish MPs have committed “blatant lies” about the state of Hungary’s democracy.

Orbán’s Calculated Move

Last month, Orbán informed NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg that he would push for his party to approve the request “as soon as possible.” Six opposition parties came to the parliament on Monday, but the attempt to schedule a vote in the legislature was thwarted by the absence of Fidesz legislators. 

After the meeting on Monday, Orbán’s actions have “put Hungary into a very humiliating position,” according to liberal Democratic Coalition politician Agnes Vadai, who also added that his administration had “no reason” to have prevented Sweden from joining NATO. Hungary became the last of the military alliance’s 31 members to vote against Sweden’s accession after the parliament of Turkey approved it in January. 

As a result, its allies put pressure on the nationalist administration to schedule a referendum as soon as possible. Orban, for his part, has never explicitly called on Hungary to abandon its delaying strategies. In March of last year, Swedish inclusion in the defense alliance was discussed by Hungarian lawmakers; but, Orban has not pressed the topic further with his parliamentary supermajority.

Balancing Act 

According to Hungarian authorities, unless Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson accepts Orbán’s offer to visit Budapest for negotiations, Fidesz legislators would not back a vote. Kristersson has stated that he will travel, but only if Hungary gives the go-ahead for his nation to join NATO. She told The Associated Press, “I think that despite all the pressure that’s coming, Orbán is acting very irrationally and it’s very personal.” “He himself should realize that the security and interests of Hungarian society will be served by (Sweden’s membership).” Ratifying Sweden’s membership in NATO can happen during a regular session of parliament, according to a statement released by Fidesz on Monday. 

However, the prime minister of Sweden is expected to visit Hungary first. “The Swedish prime minister will undoubtedly travel to Budapest if this is a significant issue for the Swedes,” the party declared. The next meeting of Hungary’s parliament is set for February 26. However, legislator Vadai stated that there was no assurance that Orbán’s party would provide a prompt approval. “Unfortunately, It is not sure if the opening session will begin with the Swedish ratification.”

Domestic Considerations

Due to disagreements concerning the existence of terrorists who identify as Kurdish in the Scandinavian nation and its intention to acquire F-16 fighter aircraft from the United States, Turkey has been slow to act. The decision last week put an end to three months of uncertainty following months of diplomatic negotiations, during which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave a favorable appraisal of Sweden’s case to the Turkish Parliament near the end of 2023. Shortly after Erdogan approved Sweden’s NATO membership on Thursday, the US government in power announced its intention to sell Turkey the F-16s, contingent on Congress’s consent. 

Congress received the official notice of the intended USD 23 billion (EUR 21.2 billion) sale from the US State Department, which had apparently been in weekly communication with the Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan. Orban, or any MP, may request the calling of a special parliamentary session in accordance with Hungarian legislation; just 20% of the House must vote in favor of this request. 

A majority of MPs would then need to adopt the motion that the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) started to schedule the vote in the House. Rather, Orban has been dragging out the situation for months. He even extended an offer to the Swedish government to come to Hungary for negotiations, but it was turned down. 


In conclusion, There’s no assurance that the impasse will end quickly. “It cannot be taken for granted that the Hungarian parliament will just ratify the NATO accession of Sweden automatically, very soon without any delay,” tweeted Peter Kreko, the director of the regional research tank Political Capital. Orban’s opposition to Sweden’s membership has been completely illogical thus far, making it hard to forecast, based on any reasonable assessment… Hungary’s requests cannot be fulfilled since they have not been made explicit.

Research Staff

Research Staff

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