NATO took a major step toward expansion Wednesday when Hungary’s ruling party indicated it will support the addition of Finland and Sweden to the alliance.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party said Wednesday it will support the ratification of NATO’s expansion to add the two Scandinavian countries, according to Reuters. Hungary was one of two remaining countries in the alliance, along with Turkey, that had not affirmed it would move forward with expanding the alliance to include Finland and Sweden, a process that began in 2022 after Russia invaded Ukraine.
Hungarian PM’s party backs ratification of Finland, Sweden Nato entryhttps://t.co/zHSJGmXFU7 (????)
— Nordic News (@Nordic_News) March 2, 2023
“We will provide our support to Finland and Sweden’s NATO accession,” Fidesz said in a statement. The party’s ruling coalition controls more than two-thirds of Hungary’s parliament.
“The expansion of NATO to Finland and Sweden is a significant step towards strengthening the security of the euroatlantic region,” Foreign Ministry State Secretary Peter Sztaray said in Hungary’s parliament. “Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership serves our foreign policy, security and economic interests and it also strengthens NATO.”
Orban had indicated that Hungary was holding out on approval for Finland and Sweden due to “outright lies” both countries had allegedly spread about the backsliding of democracy in the eastern European country. Orban’s government has come under fire in recent years from partners in Europe for curtailing civil liberties and consolidating power in the ruling party. (RELATED: NATO Head Warns Of ‘Full-Fledged’ War Between NATO And Russia)
All 30 members of NATO must ratify the expansion of the alliance in order for it to move forward. Turkey remains the only country not to do so following Hungary’s indication it will grant approval. Ankara has protested the inclusion of Sweden particularly, due to allegations the country has not done enough to crack down on Kurdish groups Turkey’s government considers to be terrorists.
Turkey had suspended talks on NATO expansion with Stockholm and Helsinki, but discussions are set to resume March 9, Ankara’s Foreign Ministry announced this week.