Sweden’s NATO entry drags on as Hungary stalls; US, allies ‘disappointed’

The Swedish and Hungarian PMs are set to meet next week

Sweden Hungary NATO FILE - Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban arrives for an annual international press conference in Budapest, Hungary | AP

The delay over Hungary's approval of Sweden's membership in NATO is creating waves of disappointment among NATO allies including the United States.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson on Friday said that he will not negotiate with Hungary over its application to join NATO.

Along with Finland, Sweden had applied to join the alliance in 2022 after Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Turkey and Hungary were the hurdles in Sweden's path to get into the NATO alliance. With Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan signing the accession documents on Thursday, Hungary is the final hurdle in the path for Sweden joining the 31-member alliance.

The Swedish and Hungarian prime ministers are set to meet next week on the sidelines of the European Council meeting in Brussels. However, Kristersson said Sweden would not make any promises on NATO.

"No demands that are related to NATO membership - that's not on the table," Kristersson told Sweden's TV4.

Discussions on Hungary's upcoming EU presidency, support for Ukraine and cooperation inside NATO are on cards during the Brussels meet.

Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban had invited Kristersson to Budapest for negotiations over NATO stressing that his nation supports Swedish membership. However, reportedly, Hungary is nurturing relations with Moscow and Beijing, which is viewed as ‘worrying’ by the NATO allies.

Meanwhile, Washington's ambassador had said, "An alliance is only as strong as the commitments that we make to each other and the commitments that we keep."

“I think that it’s important that the Hungarian government live up to its commitment, and its commitment has been that it will not be the last ally to ratify Sweden’s accession," said US ambassador, David Pressman in an interview at US embassy in Budapest.

“Hungary is really alone – and it doesn’t need to be,” he said. Recently, Hungary government blocked EU financing for Ukraine and also is in talks with Vladimir Putin.

“The bilateral relationship between the US and Hungary is extremely difficult,” the ambassador said.

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