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Special parliamentary session called by opposition on Sweden’s NATO membership lacks quorum

In the absence of the governing parties, the special session of parliament initiated by the opposition lacked a quorum. With speeches made before the planned debate, Monday's session lasted for about three quarters of an hour.

Convening a special session of parliament was initiated by Momentum after Turkiye had announced its support for Sweden’s accession at the NATO summit held in Vilnius earlier this month. The initiative was supported by the parliamentary groups of the Democratic Coalition (DK), the Socialists, Jobbik, Parbeszed and LMP, and an independent lawmaker. The opposition parties in addition initiated including another five issues on the session’s agenda.

Addressing the session, Momentum’s Ferenc Gelencser criticised lawmakers of allied ruling Fidesz and KDNP over their absence, asking the question: “Why do they collect their monthly pay if they do not bother to show up at their workplace?”. Gelencser said the session was meant to address the issue of security, but “with their absence, lawmakers of the governing parties are sending the message that they don’t care about the war, and the security of Hungarians, either”. “Creating peace is now the most important task. Sweden’s membership would certainly strengthen Hungary’s membership and would guarantee peace,” he said, adding that the governing parties had kept blocking the ratification over the past year.

Laszlo Varju, of DK, said it was “a serious sin of [Prime Minister] Viktor Orban and his government that Hungary had by now remained the only EU and NATO member to oppose the NATO membership of Sweden which is an EU member. He said Monday’s session would have been an excellent opportunity for the ratification, adding that “Viktor Orbán is serving Putin and a postponement of the ratification serves Putin’s interests”.

Mate Kanasz-Nagy, of LMP, also criticised the governing parties’ lawmakers for “disrespecting the House” by not attending the special session at which crucial issues could have been discussed. He raised the issue of battery plants, insisting that the government wanted “to turn Hungary into a battery colony” and took a decision on new plants without asking local residents about those projects.

Bence Tordai, of Parbeszed, also criticised the government for “bringing battery plants” to Hungary while realising that the country lacked the appropriate conditions for such investments. He also criticised the government for an “irresponsible” approach to climate change and the energy crisis and refusing to consider the opposition’s proposals.

Laszlo Toroczkai, the group leader of radical Mi Hazank, said that the opposition parties had “acted on the order of their masters” when initiating the special session over Sweden’s membership. He said Hungarians were interested in entirely different issues such as “empty state coffers” and “additional burdens put on Hungarian workers”, calling for measures to stop the “oligarchs”.

Koloman Brenner, of Jobbik, called for an educational reform and spending at least 8 percent of the country’s GDP on the sector.

Imre Komjathi, of the Socialists, called for improving the situation of pensioners.

After the addresses, the chair of the session told the lawmakers present that the group leaders of Fidesz and KDNP had informed the speaker of parliament that their politicians would not attend either the meeting of the house rules’ committee or the special session. Janos Latorcai then closed Monday’s session.

LMP calls for swift ratification of Sweden’s NATO accession

Opposition LMP has called on the Hungarian parliament to ratify Sweden’s accession to NATO as soon as possible. Antal Csardi, the party’s deputy group leader, told a press conference on Monday that there was “no sane reason for the government parties to block Sweden’s entry” into the alliance. Earlier this year, the parliament ratified Finland’s accession “after a similar blockade achieved practically nothing,” he said.

“Hungary’s international reputation has never been this bad,” Csardi said, insisting that the country was left in the dark on classified information collected by military allies “because they have good reason to fear that that information gets intentionally or unintentionally leaked immediately to the Russians.”

Peace in Hungary is guaranteed by NATO, “not by the Russians”, he said.

LMP is ready to vote for the ratification of Sweden’s NATO membership at an extraordinary session of parliament, should the ruling parties decide to convene one, Csardi said.

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