The head of Hungary’s ruling party in parliament said Thursday that Budapest is sending a delegation to Sweden and Finland to discuss their NATO bids.
Hungary and Turkey are the only two NATO countries that have yet to approve of the two Nordic nations joining. Prime Minister Viktor Orban previously said his country supports Sweden and Finland joining the alliance, and Hungary’s parliament is set to start debating ratifying their memberships next week.
But Mate Kocsis, the head of Orban’s Fidesz party’s parliamentary caucus, said a debate has emerged within the party over the Nordic nations joining the alliance.
According to The Associated Press, Kocsis said some Fidesz party lawmakers resented that “politicians from these countries have insulted Hungary in a crude, unfounded and often vulgar manner in recent years, and now they are asking for a favor.” The Hungarian government has come under criticism from fellow EU nations, especially since Orban won re-election last year.
Kocsis said the delegation to Sweden and Finland will be sent soon and wouldn’t delay the parliament’s plans to debate the issue next week. He said Orban still favors admitting the two countries into NATO, but Kocsis said some Fidesz members are arguing that expanding NATO “could represent an escalation in the existing conflict.”
Finland joining NATO would significantly raise tensions with Moscow as it shares an over 800-mile border with Russia. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been very critical of Sweden and said they won’t get Ankara’s support, but he suggested the Turkish parliament could admit Finland by itself.
Finnish officials recently said they’d join the alliance without Sweden, reversing their pledge to enter NATO together.