Hungary criticises 'stupidity' of Sweden as Turkey refuses to back Nato bid

Hungary's foreign minister explained that he understood Turkey's disapproval of recent events in Sweden

Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto, right, receives Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Budapest on January 31. EPA
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Hungary's Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto entered the dispute between Turkey and Sweden on Tuesday over Stockholm's Nato accession, accusing it of "stupidity" after an extremist incident in the capital.

As Sweden and Finland try to become members of the military alliance, Turkey and Hungary remain the only countries in 30-nation Nato to have failed to ratify their requests.

Ankara was outraged this month when Swedish police allowed a protest to take place at which a far-right extremist burned a copy of the Quran outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm.

Burning a sacred book of another faith was "unacceptable", Mr Szijjarto said alongside Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in Budapest.

Saying the act came under "freedom of speech" protection was "stupidity" added Mr Szijjarto.

"If a country wants to join Nato and is endeavouring to win over Turkish support, then perhaps it should behave a little more carefully," he said.

New members to the Nato alliance require approval from all 30 member states.

Turkey has refused to ratify the two countries' Nato membership bids, mainly because of Sweden's refusal to extradite dozens of suspects that Ankara links to outlawed Kurdish fighters and a failed 2016 coup attempt.

A look at the Nato military alliance - in pictures

Sweden has a bigger Kurdish diaspora than Finland and a more serious dispute with Ankara.

Turkey also reacted with fury to a Swedish prosecutor's decision not to press charges against a pro-Kurdish group that hanged an effigy of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan by its ankles outside Stockholm City Court.

Ankara last week suspended Sweden and Finland's accession talks.

The Hungarian opposition, meanwhile, has accused Prime Minister Viktor Orban's ruling party Fidesz of dragging its feet over the ratification vote.

Mr Orban, a close ally of Mr Erdogan, has also plotted an ambiguous, neutral line on the Ukraine war, offering Kyiv only lukewarm support.

Mr Szijjarto said on Tuesday that the Hungarian legislature will decide next month on approving both Nato bids.

"We have a clear standpoint. We support the expansion of Nato," he said.

Sweden and Finland dropped decades of military non-alignment with bids to join Nato after Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

Updated: January 31, 2023, 10:12 PM