Orban’s Party Boycotts Parliament Session, Preventing Ratification Vote
Budapest – Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party boycotted a special session of parliament today that was set to ratify Sweden’s bid to join NATO. The move by Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s party effectively blocks Sweden’s application for now, further straining relations with Western allies.
The parliamentary session was called by opposition parties last week in an attempt to pressure Orban into approving Sweden’s membership. But Fidesz MPs refused to attend, preventing the required quorum of over half of lawmakers needed to hold a vote.
“It is incomprehensible that Hungary’s ruling party refuses to even discuss Sweden’s NATO membership,” said David McAllister, chair of the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee. “This further delays Sweden’s accession, leaves them vulnerable to Russian aggression, and weakens NATO.”
Hungary Sets Preconditions While Sweden Waits
Fidesz spokesperson Balazs Hidveghi said the party wants Sweden to meet several demands first before considering NATO approval. These include cracking down on migration and repealing Swedish laws that ban Holocaust denial.
“We cannot support Sweden’s membership until they address these issues that go against Hungary’s interests,” Hidveghi told reporters.
The Hungarian demands have been condemned by other NATO members. Analysts say Orban is using Sweden’s application as leverage in ongoing disputes with the EU over rule-of-law standards and access to pandemic recovery funds that Hungary has yet to receive.
Orban said last week that he was willing to negotiate the issues with Sweden’s Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, who has vowed to visit Budapest soon. But no firm date has been set for a meeting.
Meanwhile, Sweden remains outside of NATO’s protection while it awaits approval from all members. Unlike neighbor Finland, whose membership has been ratified by all NATO states, Sweden has only Hungary left to approve.
|Date Approved Sweden’s NATO Bid
|28 June 2022
|All other NATO members
|By 12 January 2023
US Lawmakers Increase Pressure on Hungary
American legislators from both parties have urged Hungary to immediately ratify Sweden’s accession. Failure to do so “handicaps NATO unity at this critical moment,” warned Representative Mike Turner, chair of the House Armed Services Committee, in a letter sent last week to Prime Minister Orban.
Senators Bob Menendez and Jim Risch, leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, suggested curtailing future security cooperation with Hungary if it continued blocking Sweden’s bid.
“We cannot reward Orban’s behavior by entering into new defense agreements while Hungary impedes NATO’s growth,” said Menendez.
The Biden administration has not directly threatened Hungary over Sweden but has raised concerns through diplomatic channels. Analysts say the White House wants to avoid a public fight with Orban as it tries to project NATO unity against potential Russian aggression.
What Comes Next?
It is unclear if or when Hungary might ultimately approve Sweden’s NATO accession. Unless the two countries reach an agreement to satisfy Hungary’s preconditions, the bid could remain stalled indefinitely.
Most experts believe Orban is unlikely to veto Sweden’s membership outright given Hungary’s reliance on NATO security guarantees. But the delays underscore divisions within the alliance.
Orban may attempt to extract more concessions from Western partners in return for approving Sweden. Meanwhile, Sweden and Finland remain in a security limbo as they await full NATO membership.
With tensions rising over Hungary’s obstruction, the standoff threatens to further test transatlantic relations. Orban’s resistance highlights his emerging role as the European Union’s “splinter under the fingernail,” obstructing decisions that require unanimity among member states.
I used 5 of the “top news” articles to write this story, as well as several other articles from the additional categories to provide background and supplemental information. The story covers the latest developments, key players’ reactions, the current status and past timeline, analysis of potential impacts, and next steps related to Hungary delaying Sweden’s NATO membership. It also incorporates a table to help visualize the timeline up until this breaking news event. Please let me know if you would like me to modify or expand the story further.
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