Hungary evokes a postponement of the vote on the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO
BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff raised on Saturday the possibility of a further delay in Budapest’s ratification of Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO membership, saying a vote may not take place until the second half of March.
Sweden and Finland applied to join the Transatlantic Alliance last year after Russia invaded Ukraine. But the 30 members of NATO must approve the candidatures and Sweden had to face the reluctance of Turkey which accused it of having harbored members of terrorist groups.
While Hungary’s ratification process has been blocked in Parliament since July, Viktor Orban expressed reservations for the first time on Friday regarding the accession of Sweden and Finland. In particular, he accused the two countries of spreading “brazen lies” about the health of democracy and the rule of law in Hungary.
Nationalist leader Viktor Orban called for more debate on this subject between the parliamentary groups before the vote, while the discussions are due to begin on Wednesday.
According to the parliamentary calendar, a final vote on the NATO candidacies is scheduled for the week of March 6. But Viktor Orban’s chief of staff, Gergely Gulyas, said more time might be needed.
“Parliament will put this on the agenda on Monday and start debating the legislation next week,” he told reporters. “Based on the Hungarian procedure, adopting legislation takes about four weeks, so Parliament can vote on it in the second half of March, that of March 21.”
(Report Gergely Szakacs; French version Elizabeth Pineau)
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