Relations with Sweden 'awfully wrong': Orban
The Swedish government has contemplated deferring the objective of joining NATO from the July summit in Vilnius to the bloc's conference in Washington next April.
Faced with opposition from both Turkey and Hungary, the Swedish government has contemplated deferring the objective of joining NATO from the July summit in Vilnius to the bloc's conference in Washington next April, according to numerous sources.
Hungary-Sweden relations are strained and must improve before the Nordic country's NATO membership application is granted, according to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban addressing the Qatar Economic Forum.
Read more: Stockholm ratification stalls in Budapest, needs to regain trust
Orban's chief of staff has stated that bilateral ties between Hungary and Sweden have reached an all-time low. He also accused Swedish lawmakers of "making a habit of continually questioning the state of democracy in Hungary," as well as "insulting Hungarian voters and MPs, and, through them, the whole of Hungary."
There is no specific timetable for the Hungarian parliament to vote on Sweden's application for entry, which must be approved by all present members.
In response to Orban's new remarks, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg restated his desire and recommendation that Sweden's application be granted. Stoltenberg mentioned the Turkish election and Sweden's new anti-terror regulations as examples of variables that might ease the Nordic country's entrance. Simultaneously, Stoltenberg stated that the impending NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, is only "a possibility, not a guarantee."
However, Swedish media has been reporting that the government's intention for Swedish NATO membership may be on hold. Instead of being accepted in Vilnius in July, the option of joining NATO only at the bloc's conference in Washington in April of next year is now being considered. The lack of a plan B has drawn criticism from the Social Democrats, a heavyweight party that has dominated Swedish politics since the 1930s. If NATO membership is delayed, the Social Democrats, who are currently in opposition, have advocated for further Nordic cooperation.
Nonetheless, Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom of the current minority government's liberal-conservative Moderate Party reiterated that the objective for Stockholm is to join NATO in conjunction with the Vilnius meeting.
Sweden and its neighbor Finland applied to join NATO last year, citing changes in the European security picture as a result of the Ukraine crisis. While Finland went on to become a member, Turkiye and Hungary have stymied Sweden's bid, with Budapest citing grievances over Stockholm's criticism of Orban's record on democracy and the rule of law, and Ankara accusing Sweden of harboring what it sees as Kurdish terrorists and, most recently, meddling in Turkish elections.