The Hungarian parliament has not voted yet about Sweden’s and Finland’s NATO membership bids. Though there is speculation about the reasons, the main obstacle for the two Nordic countries remains Turkey.
Hungary and Turkey remain the last two NATO countries yet to ratify Sweden’s and Finland’s accession.
The Hungarian government did not speak out against the membership of the two Nordic countries: in July, Péter Szijjártó, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade submitted to Parliament the bills on the Finnish and Swedish applications for membership. The parliament’s press department told Hungarian news site Telex earlier „that the vote on the two countries’ NATO membership is on the autumn agenda – which began on 26 September -, but did not say when exactly it would take place”.
The opposition Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) suggested that the vote takes place on Tuesday (4 October), but the governing majority voted down their motion. According to Socialist MEP Bertalan Tóth, “the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO strengthens the ambition to jointly guarantee the security of our citizens. MSZP expects the Hungarian government to strengthen this as well”.
The Hungarian government has not indicated that it could block the two countries’ accession. The autumn session started just a week ago. The governing majority is presumably not planning to have MSZP’s demand as a basis for the timing of the vote. It could also be a subtle political signal, as the leading Swedish and Finnish political forces regularly vote against Hungary in the EU institutions.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech in Turkey’s parliament on Saturday that his country will not ratify the membership bids until Sweden and Finland keep the promises they made to Ankara. “We are closely following whether the promises made by Sweden and Finland are kept or not, and of course, the final decision will be up to our great parliament,” he said, according to TRT. The three countries struck a deal in June, according to which Turkey expects Finland and Sweden to lift arms embargoes imposed on Turkey, toughen their laws against Kurdish militant activists that Ankara considers terrorists, and address Turkish extradition requests for them. The first has recently happened, but Turkey does not think that the Nordic countries show enough commitment to the latter issue.
Featured photo via Flickr/NATO