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Sunday, April 14, 2024

‘Confident’ Sweden will Soon Join NATO, Says US Envoy to Hungary

In a recent statement, the U.S. ambassador to Hungary expressed confidence that Sweden would soon join NATO, highlighting ongoing discussions between the countries involved. The envoy asserted that Budapest had provided assurances that Hungary would not be the final country to ratify Sweden’s NATO membership.

The delay in Budapest’s ratification of Sweden’s NATO membership and Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s close ties with Moscow, despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, have strained relations between Hungary and the United States. The U.S. ambassador emphasized receiving repeated assurances from the Hungarian government at the highest levels that Hungary would eventually ratify Sweden’s accession to NATO.

Hungary, along with Turkey, is yet to ratify Sweden’s NATO membership bid. While Budapest officially opposes Russia’s actions in Ukraine, Prime Minister Viktor Orban has maintained strong ties with Moscow, citing Hungary’s dependence on Russia for its energy needs. Despite this, Hungary has refrained from openly condemning President Vladimir Putin’s policies.

In April, the United States imposed sanctions on IIB, a Russian bank headquartered in Budapest, prompting Hungary to withdraw from the bank shortly after the penalties were announced. The move was aimed at urging Hungary to sever ties with what the U.S. termed an “opaque Kremlin-controlled platform.”

The U.S. ambassador also expressed concern about a “sovereignty protection bill” flagged by Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party. The bill, initially scheduled for submission to parliament, has been postponed. The envoy voiced apprehension about the potential impact of the bill, especially if it seeks to criminalize and intimidate independent civil society and media organizations. He emphasized the dangers associated with such measures and expressed hope that Hungary would choose a different path.

The U.S. envoy, who has a history of addressing issues such as LGBT rights and Hungary’s relationship with Russia, underscored the importance of maintaining democratic principles and respecting the independence of civil society and media organizations. The situation reflects ongoing diplomatic challenges as countries navigate geopolitical dynamics and differing perspectives on key international issues.

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