NATO's headquarters in Brussels

President Novak: NATO must be united, strengthened, but debates ongoing over expansion

NATO must remain united and be strengthened, but issues over the alliance's expansion must be debated, President Katalin Novak said on Turkish state television late on Monday.
4. April 2023 16:10

In response to a question concerning the NATO accession of Finland and Sweden, she said in an interview to the English-language news programme One on One on TRT World: “In these demanding times we have to stay united and we also have to show our strength.”

NATO is an important alliance which should be strengthened, she added.

Commenting on NATO accession, she said: “We should have debates about these decisions; we should really consider the pros and cons.”

Novak said that both the Hungarian parliament and Turkey had already decided on Finland’s NATO accession, but concerning Sweden, were tough debates taking place in the Hungarian parliament.

“From Sweden’s high representatives there were some unacceptable statements about Hungary,” she said. “They were [baseless], biased statements about Hungary,” she added.

However, she said that her opinion as president was that “we should put these issues aside and say that in this very difficult and demanding situation we have more reasons to accept in the NATO Sweden than to refuse this.”

“I think that NATO can become stronger by receiving Sweden but I also do understand the concerns of Turkiye and I also do understand the concerns of the Hungarian parliamentarians,” she said.

Commenting on the European energy crisis, she said Hungary was very much dependent on Turkiye in terms of gas supplies from Azerbaijan. “Turkiye has been a very reliable partner,” she said in connection with Russian gas which also comes through Turkiye on the Turkish pipeline.

On the question of the country’s dependence on Russian energy, she said that Hungary’s geographical position was such that dependence cannot be changed overnight, “but we are constantly working to reduce this dependence”.

In the interview Novak also expressed Hungary’s condolences to the Turkish people in connection with the Feb. 6 earthquakes.

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