Sweden’s NATO membership in the balance – top Hungarian MP

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A top Hungarian MP has questioned whether his country should confirm Sweden’s NATO membership after Stockholm accused the Eastern European country of repressing democracy.

In an interview with the HiR TV broadcaster on Friday, Hungarian parliamentary speaker Laszlo Kover chastised Stockholm for a film made in 2019 by the Swedish Educational Broadcasting Company (UR) criticising Hungary’s “poor state of democracy.”

“It is not certain that we must vote on this [Sweden’s membership ratification].” “I don’t think we need an ally who believes the same thing about us and our patriotism that this little film does,” Kover said.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto also reacted angrily to the ten-minute film. Last week, the diplomat wrote to his Swedish counterpart, Tobias Billstrom, expressing outrage at what he called “serious accusations” and misinformation spreading among Swedish students.

You push our legislators to support your NATO membership while accusing them of destroying democracy in Hungary,” According to Szijjarto. These efforts, he asserted, contradict one other and “definitely [do not] help” in preparing the road for Sweden’s ultimate inclusion in the US-led military bloc.

In response to the claims, the UR stated that the film is “more important than ever,” and the broadcaster’s CEO, Kalle Sandhammar, stated that the corporation should not be scared of criticism. He claimed it is “very easy to defend [the film],” citing “credible and clearly reported sources.”

Following the outbreak of the Ukraine conflict, Sweden and its Nordic neighbour Finland applied to join NATO in May 2022. While Finland became a full member of the EU in April, Sweden’s admission is still pending approval from Hungary and Turkey.

As a condition for ratification, Ankara has long urged that Stockholm crack down on terrorist organisations. Meanwhile, Budapest has repeatedly condemned what it considers Sweden’s “blatant lies” about the state of Hungarian democracy. As a result, for more than a year, Hungarian MPs have been hesitant to convene a ratification vote.