Budapest does not need an ally accusing it of democratic failings, the parliament speaker has said
A leading Hungarian parliamentarian has questioned whether his country should ratify NATO membership for Sweden, after Stockholm accused the eastern European nation of a crackdown on democracy.
In an interview with TV broadcaster HiR on Friday, Hungarian parliament speaker Laszlo Kover rebuked Stockholm for a film released by the Swedish Educational Broadcasting Corporation (UR) in 2019, which criticized what it described as the poor democracy in Hungary.
“It is not certain that we have to vote on this [membership ratification for Sweden]. I think we don’t need an ally who has the same opinion of us and our patriotism as this little film reflects,” Kover said.
The ten-minute video also prompted a backlash from Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto. The diplomat wrote last week to his Swedish counterpart, Tobias Billström, expressing outrage at what he called “serious allegations” and misinformation being spread among Swedish students.
“You urge our parliamentarians to ratify your accession to NATO, while you continue to accuse them of destroying democracy in Hungary,” Szijjarto said. He argued that these efforts contradict each other and “definitely [do not] help” in paving the way for Sweden’s eventual membership in the US-led military bloc.
UR responded to the allegations by insisting that the film is “more important than ever”, while the TV company’s CEO, Kalle Sandhammar, said the company should not be afraid of criticism. He argued that it is “very easy to defend [the film],” claims it is based on “credible and clearly reported sources.”
Sweden and its Nordic neighbor Finland applied to join NATO in May 2022, after the start of the Ukraine conflict. While Finland became a full member of the bloc in April, Sweden’s accession has yet to be ratified by Hungary and Turkey.
Ankara has long demanded that Stockholm crack down on groups it considers to be terrorists as a condition for ratification. At the same time, Budapest has repeatedly condemned what it calls “blatant lies” spread by Sweden about the state of Hungarian democracy. As a result, Hungarian MPs have been reluctant to hold a ratification vote for more than a year.