Hungarian government official argues Sweden isn't nice enough to his country to get approval to join NATO

Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban looks on ahead of a meeting of the North Atlantic Council during the NATO summit at the Ifema congress center in Madrid, on June 30, 2022.
Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban looks on ahead of a meeting of the North Atlantic Council during the NATO summit at the Ifema congress center in Madrid, on June 30, 2022.Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP via Getty Images
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  • Hungary is one of two countries yet to approve Sweden's bid to join NATO.

  • A government spokesperson published a blog Wednesday detailing why there's still a delay.

  • The official claimed Sweden undermines the two countries' relationship and has a "hostile" attitude.

Sweden's pending admission to the NATO alliance is being held up by Hungary until a number of "grievances" are addressed, a government spokesperson said this week. Among them are complaints that Swedish officials routinely "bash" Budapest in the diplomatic space.

Zoltán Kovács, Hungary's secretary of state for international communication and relations, published a blog on Wednesday that details three reasons why he says the country's parliament is "right" to delay signing off on Sweden's bid to join the military alliance.

Sweden — alongside neighboring Finland — requested to join NATO after Russia invaded Ukraine over a year ago, but it still needs Hungary's approval to do so. The central European country approved Finland's bid this week, but Sweden's is still being delayed.

"With Finland's admission into NATO now secure, Sweden must face the music regarding its daunting attitude and former derogatory comments toward Hungary," Kovács wrote. "In the case of Sweden, there is an ample amount of grievances that need to be addressed before the country's admission is ratified."

Kovács described several issues that Hungary takes with Sweden, including accusations that Sweden regularly "undermines" the relationship between the two countries through a "declared and open hostile attitude."

"Swedish representatives have been repeatedly keen to bash Hungary through diplomatic means, using their political influence to harm Hungarian interests," Kovács said. He cited instances where Swedish politicians in recent years have been critical of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's government, which has undergone democratic backsliding.

Orbán has taken a hardline stance on Hungary's judicial system, academic institutions, press, and immigration, leading European Union lawmakers to vote last year to revoke the country's status as a democracy, instead calling it "a hybrid regime of electoral autocracy."

Sweden's foreign affairs ministry did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson addresses a joint press conference with the NATO Secretary General in Stockholm on March 7, 2023, following a meeting with all Swedish party leaders who are in favor of a Swedish NATO membership.
Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson addresses a joint press conference with the NATO Secretary General in Stockholm on March 7, 2023, following a meeting with all Swedish party leaders who are in favor of a Swedish NATO membership.Photo by JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images

Kovács wrote that another reason for the hold up on Sweden's NATO bid is Stockholm's "crumbling throne of moral superiority" and a "lack of care and respect." He said relations between the two countries have deteriorated in recent years, which makes it harder for them to mend ties now.

"Adding Ankara's woes and grievances to the mix does not leave much room to maneuver, at least not until the Swedes start changing their tune and help these lingering wounds heal," Kovács said in reference to Turkey, which has joined Hungary is delaying Sweden's bid to join NATO.

Sweden and Finland — both of which have historically been militarily nonaligned — applied to join NATO in May 2022 and were invited to join the military alliance the following month. But parliaments in each of the 30 member countries need to approve a new member's bid since NATO requires unanimous consent to expand.

These two Nordic countries would give NATO a meaningful boost to its military capabilities as the alliance faces an ongoing threat from Russia.

Both Turkey and Hungary previously signaled that they would hold out on signing off on Sweden's request to join the NATO alliance, with the former accusing Stockholm of supporting militant groups that it considers to be terrorists. A former Hungarian ambassador to NATO and the US previously told Insider that he believes Hungary's timeline in approving Sweden's bid will follow in the footsteps of Turkey's ratification.

Read the original article on Business Insider