A debate was held in Hungary's parliament on Wednesday regarding the NATO membership of Sweden and Finland.
Péter Sztáray, the foreign ministry’s state secretary for national security, introduced the debate by telling lawmakers that the Hungarian government’s position is that the enlargement of NATO will be a significant step towards enhancing the security of the Euro-Atlantic region. Finland and Sweden are countries that meet all NATO requirements, he said, adding that they had armed forces that are compatible with the armed forces of NATO member states and shared the democratic values of those member states. Sztáray noted that both countries have participated as NATO partners in several joint programmes since 1995, adding that “their accession will serve Hungary’s foreign policy, security policy and foreign economic interests”. The state secretary however noted criticism directed at Hungary by the two countries which he called “unfounded” and “unjust”. For this reason, the government supported the house speaker’s initiative to send a parliamentary delegation to each of the two countries for consultations in the coming days. “The security of the Euro-Atlantic region including Hungary, and restoring and maintaining peace must however come before any accusation or offenses,” Sztáray said and asked MPs to vote in favour of ratifying Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership. Zsolt Németh, of ruling Fidesz, said Hungary supports the enlargement of NATO, adding that the alliance would become stronger with the accession of Sweden and Finland. But, he added, Hungary did not conflate NATO enlargement with bilateral relations. Hungary is not supporting the two countries’ bids “out of mercy”, but out of its obligation to the alliance, Nemeth said. He said the ratification was “an excellent opportunity” for Hungary to speak with its partners and clarify “misunderstandings, allegations and lies”. The purpose of the parliamentary delegation’s visit is to aim for a relationship of a new quality, Németh said.