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Hungary's president urges lawmakers to ratify Finland, Sweden NATO entry

Hungary's president urges lawmakers to ratify Finland, Sweden NATO entry

FILE PHOTO: A view of the flags of Finland, NATO and Sweden during a ceremony to mark Sweden's and Finland's application for membership in Brussels, Belgium, May 18, 2022. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/Pool/File Photo/File Photo

BUDAPEST: Hungarian President Katalin Novak urged lawmakers on Wednesday (Mar 1) to ratify Finland and Sweden's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) entry "as soon as possible" as deputies started debating the motions after months of the bills being stranded in parliament.

Sweden and Finland applied last year to join the transatlantic defence pact after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. But all 30 NATO members need to back the applications and Sweden has faced objections from Türkiye for harbouring what Ankara considers to be members of terrorist groups.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday talks with Sweden and Finland over their NATO membership bids would resume on Mar 9, although he said Sweden had still not fulfilled its obligations under a memorandum signed last year.

With Hungary's ratification process stranded in parliament since July, nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban aired concerns about Sweden and Finland's NATO membership for the first time last Friday.

Among other criticisms, he has accused both countries of spreading "outright lies" about the health of democracy and the rule of law in Hungary.

"It is a complex decision, with serious consequences, so careful consideration is necessary," Novak said on Facebook.

"My position is clear-cut: In the present situation, the accession of Sweden and Finland is justified. I trust the National Assembly will make a wise decision as soon as possible."

Nationalist Orban said more talks were needed between parliamentary groups before lawmakers vote on the membership bids, which they will begin debating on Wednesday.

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto on Tuesday said Hungary intends to send a parliamentary delegation to Finland on or around Mar 9 to discuss the Nordic nation's pending NATO membership.

Orban's chief of staff on Saturday said a vote on ratification may take place only in the second half of March.

Source: Reuters/at

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