Hungary accuses Nato-applicant Sweden of spreading lies

Stern words from head of delegation on official visit to Stockholm

Csaba Hende, deputy speaker of the Hungarian parliament, speaks to reporters in the Swedish capital on Tuesday. Reuters
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Swedish politicians should stop spreading lies about Hungary and the rule of law in the country, a senior politician has said while on a diplomatic mission to Stockholm.

Csaba Hende, head of the Hungarian parliamentary delegation, said Hungary supported Sweden’s Nato application and they expected a vote in favour “in the coming weeks”.

As Sweden, an EU member, applied to join the defence alliance, which needs the unanimous support of its signatories, Nato member Hungary has used that leverage in a dispute with Brussels.

Sweden’s bid, and an application from another EU member Finland, have been ratified by all Nato allies except Hungary and Turkey.

Mr Hende, deputy speaker of the Hungarian parliament, and other Hungarian MPs on Tuesday met the Swedish speaker for a “courtesy visit”.

“It was warm, friendly, forward-looking and carried with it the hope of a new beginning,” he said.

“We made it clear that the Hungarian government, the Hungarian President and the vast majority of MPs unanimously support the Nato membership of Sweden.”

He said it was necessary to improve bilateral relations between Stockholm and Budapest but that Sweden needed to show Hungary “more respect”. Mr Hende accused Sweden of misrepresenting his country.

“It would be good if in the future, Swedish politicians, members of government, MPs and MEPs would avoid portraying Hungary in a false light by eluding to an absence of rule of law that is based on clearly untrue facts,” he said.

Hungary has repeatedly delayed ratifying the Nordic neighbours.

“We started the debate last week and normally when everything goes well, in a couple of weeks’ time such a debate is over,” said Mr Hende, a member of Prime Minister Viktor Orban's Fidesz party.

The vote, initially due to take place between March 6 and 9, has been pushed back to March 20 at the earliest.

Mr Orban had effectively sought to use the Nato expansion as leverage during his own EU stand off over more than $30 billion in blocked funds.

Hungary’s EU funding is currently suspended over concerns of corruption and rule of law.

The Hungarian group will have a similar meeting in Finland on Wednesday.

Updated: March 07, 2023, 5:04 PM

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