US Senators Push for Sweden's NATO Entry During Budapest Visit, Hungarian Officials Decline Meeting

  • by:
  • Source: Wayne Dupree
  • 02/18/2024
On Sunday, a group of US senators from both parties paid a formal visit to Budapest and urged the nationalist administration to grant Sweden's bid to join NATO right away. Of the 31 members of NATO, Hungary is the only one who has not accepted Sweden's offer.

After postponing the decision for nearly eighteen months, the Hungarian government is under increasing pressure to take action; a new member of the military alliance needs the unanimous consent of all members. The AP notes that the senators said they would present a joint resolution to Congress denouncing purported democratic regression in Hungary and pressing Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's administration to remove its impediment to Sweden's transatlantic integration.

During a press conference at the US Embassy in Budapest, Republican Sen. Thom Tillis said, "With admission, Hungary and your prime minister will be delivering a wonderful service to freedom-loving countries worldwide." Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, and Senator Tillis wrote the resolution. Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat, traveled to Budapest with them.

Sen. Ben Cardin, a Democrat and the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, referred to Orbán as "the least loyal member of NATO" and said that sanctions on Hungary may be considered earlier this month. The resolution, which the AP was able to get, highlights Hungary's break with its pledge to not be the last NATO ally to approve Sweden's admission.

Orbán has said that he supports Sweden joining NATO, but that "blatant falsehoods" from Swedish politicians on Hungary's democracy have not persuaded MPs in his party to change their minds. However, Orbán hinted that Hungary's lawmakers would soon give up during a speech on Saturday.

Shaheen expressed disappointment on Sunday that none of the Hungarian cabinet members had accepted offers to meet with the group, but she expressed confidence that Sweden's ratification will be put up for consideration when Hungarian parliament next gather on February 26. Murphy called it "odd and alarming" that the administration refused to convene. Although he welcomed the senators' visit, Hungary's foreign minister said on Friday that it was "not worth attempting to apply pressure on us, since we are a sovereign nation."


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