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Orban invites Swedish PM to ‘negotiate’ NATO accession

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Tuesday invited his Swedish counterpart to Budapest to discuss the Nordic country’s NATO accession bid, which still needs approval from Hungary and Turkey. Turkey’s parliament is expected to vote this week to ratify Sweden’s bid to join the Western defence alliance after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “Today I sent an invitation letter to Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson for a visit to Hungary to negotiate on Sweden’s NATO accession,” Orban wrote on X, formerly Twitter. Turkey’s ratification would leave Hungary as the last holdout. Budapest has often denounced what it called Stockholm’s “openly hostile attitude”, accusing Swedish representatives of being “repeatedly keen to bash Hungary” on rule-of-law issues. Kristersson’s office did not immediately reply to a request for comment on Orban’s invitation when contacted by AFP. Last week, Hungary criticised Sweden for not having taken any steps to strengthen bilateral relations. Orban’s chief of staff, Gergely Gulyas, on Thursday suggested the Swedish government “should get in touch, ask what concerns the Hungarian parliament has and what they can do about it”. Hungary’s opposition has been pressing the government to schedule a vote. The Hungarian Socialist Party in a fresh statement Tuesday asked Orban “to stop this stupid, harmful and unnecessary charade”. Hungary has repeatedly insisted it supports Sweden’s bid but has continuously dragged its feet arranging a vote in parliament to ratify the bid. In September, Orban told parliament that ratifying Sweden’s NATO bid was not “urgent” and demanded “respect” from the Nordic country, a fellow EU member.

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