Szijjarto: Restoring mutual respect in Hungary-Sweden ties prerequisite of NATO membership ratification

Sweden needs show respect in its bilateral ties with Hungary, and lawmakers of the Hungarian parliament will most certainly be ready to speed up the ratification of its NATO membership, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in Montenegro's Budva on Friday.
6. October 2023 23:23

Addressing the To Be Secure (2BS) annual security policy conference, the foreign minister pointed out that the Hungarian government had submitted the ratification documents to parliament last year. “The decision is now in the hands of the national assembly,” Szijjarto said, according to a statement by the ministry.

He told the forum that Hungarian MPs had obtained their mandates “in a democratic race” in the general elections, many of whom represented the governing parties for the fourth, fifth, even for the sixth time. The people voted for them, and they have been working for decades to represent their interests, Szijjarto said.

“Despite of all this, they must be listening constantly to claims made from a distance of several hundred kilometres that they have won their mandates in a non-democratic, illegitimate, autocratic and dictatorial procedure,” he said.

The foreign minister called it “unacceptable and offensive” that while Sweden kept urging the ratification of the country’s NATO membership, it constantly repeated that Hungary was not a democracy.

In connection with the war in Ukraine, Szijjarto reiterated the government’s position that Hungary was “in a special situation” because of the 155,000 ethnic Hungarians living in western Ukraine’s Transcarpathian region, many of whom fight and die in the front. “We Hungarians do not want that many more people, many more ethnic Hungarians should die,” he said.

In Ukraine, most EU and NATO countries thought “the time is not right for a military solution”, Szijjarto said. Hungary, meanwhile, is of the view that the circumstances for such a solution will become progessively worse as the war continues.

That preserving the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine is a goal “goes without saying”, Hungary’s government is merely calling for an end to the destruction, he said.

Szijjarto said that he had met his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, several times since the start of the war. Keeping channels of communication open is key to preserving a hope of peace, he said.

Regarding the EU integration of the Western Balkans, Szijjarto warned that even as certain member states keep voicing concerns about foreign powers seeking to establish their influence in the region, the accession process was not moving forward.

The EU could “easily solve that problem” by integrating the states in question into the bloc, he said. The “shocking” deadline in 2030, recently outlined by EU President Charles Michel, “may be too late”, he said.

Responding a question on Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, Szijjarto said the people’s decision to vote him into office must be respected.

Hungary has a vested interest in maintaining Bosnia and Herzegovina’s territorial integrity, and the best guarantee to that would be an EU membership, he added.

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