‘We’ve had enough of serving as a cheap playground for bored politicians who whenever they can’t think of anything else to do or wish to divert attention from something they walk all over Hungary,’ László Kövér, Speaker of the Hungarian Parliament declared in an interview with Index, addressing the situation concerning Sweden’s accession to NATO.
The Turkish parliament approved the Nordic country’s application for NATO membership on Tuesday, with the ratification pending President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s signature. Once this occurs, Hungary will become the last NATO member state to ratify Swedish membership.
Critics of the Hungarian government argue that this has resulted in an exceedingly embarrassing diplomatic situation. Recently, Viktor Orbán extended an invitation to Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson to visit Budapest for discussions on Stockholm’s membership, but he declined the invitation. In a telephone conversation with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the Hungarian prime minister emphasized that the Hungarian government supports the Nordic state’s membership and expressed hope that the Hungarian parliament would make a decision on the matter as promptly as possible.
László Kövér, who himself is among those who oppose Swedish NATO membership, informed Index that
Sweden had been notified multiple times about the issues preventing the inclusion of Swedish NATO membership on the House’s agenda.
He emphasized that Hungary takes seriously the principle that NATO is an alliance of equal and sovereign states, with member states committing to treat any attack on one ally as an automatic attack on all. ‘A NATO member deploys its own citizens to the front, even sacrificing their lives to defend an ally, and in return, they expect the same,’ he stressed. He highlighted that such a commitment requires an unparalleled level of trust, which, through Sweden’s fault, does not currently exist between Hungary and Sweden.
‘What we are discussing here is that the Swedes...have gone so far in vilifying Hungary, in denigrating the democratically elected government, and in restricting its room for manoeuvre that this cannot be dismissed as an inconsequential or minor circumstance,’ the Speaker stated. László Kövér reminded that after Hungary ratified Finnish membership, which was submitted simultaneously with the Swedish application, the Finnish government promptly joined proceedings against Hungary before the European Court of Justice. ‘Do they genuinely believe they want to enter into a life-and-death agreement with us, when they refuse to show the slightest respect?’
The Speaker stated that Hungary had attempted to resolve the lingering issues with Sweden, but the attitude of the Nordic country was, to say the least, unsatisfactory. He insisted that the crucial issue for the Swedes, who express the desire to join, is to prove that they take Hungary seriously.
‘If I may use military terminology, we are nobody's orderly,’
The Fidesz politician highlighted the absence of an agreement between Türkiye and Hungary regarding the ratification of Sweden’s NATO accession, emphasizing the complete independence of the Hungarian Parliament. Expressing regret over the prolonged ratification process, Kövér lamented that, despite considerable efforts by Swedish diplomacy to address Turkish concerns, Swedish politicians had not engaged in any dialogue with Hungary. ‘You should not give the impression that you are ignoring us,’ he urged the Swedish government.
Finally, he expressed a personal desire for the Swedes to afford him the opportunity to change his stance on their membership with a clear conscience as soon as possible. Kövér also criticized NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, stating: ‘Just to be clear: we would have concluded this entire process long ago if Mr Stoltenberg had invested half as much effort in persuading Swedish politicians as he did in conveying a message to us,’ he concluded.