A bipartisan delegation of U.S. senators visited Budapest on Sunday, urging the Hungarian government to immediately approve Sweden's request to join NATO. Hungary, the only NATO member yet to ratify Sweden's bid after 18 months of delay, faces mounting pressure as unanimous approval is needed for new members to be admitted.

Joint Resolution to Address Democratic Backsliding

During a news conference at the U.S. Embassy in Budapest, Sen. Thom Tillis emphasized the significance of Hungary's support for Sweden's integration into the military alliance. He, along with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Sen. Chris Murphy, will submit a joint resolution to Congress condemning alleged democratic backsliding in Hungary and urging Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's government to remove the block on Sweden's transatlantic integration.

Optimism Amid Disappointments

Despite the Hungarian government's refusal to meet with the visiting delegation, Sen. Shaheen remains hopeful and optimistic that Sweden's accession will be up for ratification when Hungarian lawmakers reconvene on Feb. 26. Sen. Murphy expressed concern over the lack of communication from Orbán's government but highlighted the prime minister's role in pushing for a vote.

Potential Sanctions and Calls for Action

Earlier this month, Sen. Ben Cardin raised the possibility of imposing sanctions on Hungary for its conduct, labeling Orbán as "the least reliable member of NATO." In their resolution, the senators recognize Hungary's importance in European and transatlantic security while holding the government accountable for unfulfilled promises regarding Sweden's NATO membership.

In conclusion, the efforts of the U.S. senators highlight the urgent need for Hungary to act decisively and uphold its commitment to the NATO alliance by approving Sweden's bid promptly.

Hungary at Odds with NATO on Sweden's Accession

Hungary has found itself in the hot seat as it stands out as the only member of NATO that has not given its approval for Sweden to join the alliance. This act has raised concerns about the country's commitment to trans-Atlantic security and stability in Europe, especially at a crucial moment.

Orban's Standpoint

Prime Minister Orbán, known for his nationalist views, has expressed support for Sweden's NATO membership. However, he faced opposition from lawmakers in his party who cited alleged misinformation spread by Swedish politicians regarding Hungary's democracy. Despite this, Orbán hinted at a possible shift during a recent state of the nation speech in Budapest.

The Tug of War

In addition to Sweden's NATO accession, concerns have been raised about Hungary's growing ties with Russia and China. While Hungary has welcomed Ukrainian refugees escaping from Russia's invasion, it has also been criticized for undermining EU sanctions against Russia. Orbán's close relationship with the Kremlin further complicates Hungary's position within the EU.

Foreign Relations and Criticism

Hungary's government's criticism extends beyond NATO relations. President Biden's administration has faced pushback from Hungarian officials who accuse the U.S. of interference in their country's affairs. The EU has also withheld financial support from Budapest due to concerns over democratic standards and the rule of law.

A Sovereign Stance

Hungary's Foreign Minister, Péter Szijjártó, emphasized the country's sovereignty, asserting that attempts to pressure Hungary would not be successful. He welcomed a visit from senators but refuted claims made by the American media regarding Hungary, labeling them as falsehoods.

In light of these developments, Hungary finds itself at a crossroads, balancing its international relationships while defending its sovereignty and domestic policies.

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